Sporadic clashes mark city elections in Dhaka, Ctg
Published : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, Time : 12:00 AM, View Count : 20
Staff Correspondent Sporadic clashes erupted between supporters of rival councillor candidates during the Dhaka North, South and Chittagong city corporation elections on Tuesday. Ruling party activists physically assaulted at least seven journalists while threatening or intimidating dozen others while performing duties at various polling centres in Dhaka and Chittagong. At least 23 people were injured including one female councillor candidate (independent) of Ward 9,10,11 of Dhaka South City Corporation. Of them three received bullet injuries. The injured were admitted to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH). Clashes occurred between supporters of the ruling party Awami League-backed candidates and supporters of renegade councillor candidates at Suritola in Bangsal, Mohammadpur, Khilgaon, Kafrul, Hazaribagh on the day. A reporter of the online news-portal risingbd, Yasin Rabbi, was bullet-hit during clashes in Basabo Girls High School polling centre at Sabujbagh in the city. He is undergoing treatment at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). An Assistant Presiding Officer, Mohammad Bazlur Rahman, at the Banglabazar Govt Girls School polling centre was found carrying stamped ballot papers, which created an uproar among the voters and disrupted voting for more than an hour. Two polling agents were beaten up by unruly youths and police as they protested against vote rigging allegedly by Awami League candidates at Kamalapur in Dhaka in the morning. At least six other people, including a four-year-old boy, were injured when supporters of two councillor candidates locked in clashes at Kamalapur High School polling centre of Dhaka South City Corporation on Tuesday. The injured-Mukul, 37, Sumon, 28, Shafikul, 35, Saiful, 30, Sabbir, 30 and Arafat, 4-are undergoing treatment at DMCH. Of them, Mukul received stab wounds on his back. A number of voters led by BNP activists vandalised ballot boxes in the centre, under Dhaka South City Corporation, and also set them on fire when they came to know about vote rigging, our correspondent reports from the spot. Supporters of two Awami League leaders, both councillor candidates, Yar Mohammad Yaru and Mohammad Salim, one backed by the party and the other a rebel, clashed at noon in front of the Kabi Nazrul College polling centre. Supporters of Md Salim alleged that fake votes had been cast at that centre in the morning. At noon the local Chhatra League activists ousted the supporters of Md Salim from the centre. Law enforcers lobbed teargas shells and fired blank shot to bring the clashing groups under control. Assistant Commissioner Nurul Amin of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Sutrapur Zone told journalists, "We have brought the situation under control after firing in the air and lobbing tear gas shells." However, moment later two loud explosions of hand made bombs were heard from inside the centre, forcing the voters to rush out immediately. Anwar Hossain, one of the voters told an online news paper, "I came to cast my vote but I couldn't. They are stamping fake votes inside the polling centre." Voting at Suritola polling centre in Bangsal in Dhaka South City has been cancelled after it was attacked and damaged. The second centre in the Suritola School building came under attack an hour after polling started at 8:00am. Voters queued up at the centre since 7:00 in the morning and all seemed well. But trouble erupted suddenly, said the locals. "We have suspended voting at this centre after the attack, for which outsiders were responsible. Polling will resume once normalcy is restored," Presiding Officer Nitesh Chandra Saha told the Daily Observer at noon. Polling at the centre resumed at 2:00pm. Supporters of an Awami League-backed councillor aspirant of Dhaka South Ward 19 stuffed stamped ballots into boxes at the Shiddheshwari Girls High School polling centre. Chief polling agent Md Wali Al Quadir of councillor candidate Abu Zubayer Md Miratillah said, "Supporters of the ruling party-backed councillor candidate held the presiding officer hostage at about 7:30am and stamped ballot papers." A presiding officer at a Dhaka South polling centre has been spotted stamping ballots on the symbol of Awami League-endorsed mayor candidate. Presiding Officer Obaidul Islam of Narinda Govt Primary School was seen stamping ballots around 11:30am. Early in the morning one of the two rival groups at the Pogos School polling centre clashed over claims of ballot box stuffing by the other group, which stopped voting activities for some time. The clashing group also destroyed some ballot papers. Locals roughed up four people suspecting them to be fake voters after they came out from Begum Badrunnesa Govt Women College at Bakshibazar on Tuesday. Sources said the incident took place in the afternoon. Those who were assaulted are Mohsin Ali, 45, Mohammad Khaled, 22, Lal Miah, 50 and Saddam Hossain, 25. The injured were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Our Chittagong correspondent adds, supporters of the ruling Awami League-backed mayor aspirant in Chittagong have captured at least four polling centres in South Paharhtali and snatched ballots before stamping them. Polling centres at the BCIR Laboratory High School and Oli Ahmed Govt Primary School were captured by Awami League-endorsed AJM Nasir Uddin's supporters after voting started at 8:00am on Tuesday. A few handmade bombs were exploded at the BCIR Laboratory School centre at about 7:30am, said Presiding Officer Md Abul Hashem. He said several ballot papers were snatched from two booths and some of them were returned, but only after they were stamped on Elephant. Security forces at the Fateyabad City Corporation Girls High School apparently sprang into action as soon as journalists reached there on receiving complaints of rigging. Several ballot papers, stamped on Elephant symbol, were found scattered at the polling station.