The Monipur High School polling centre in the capital’s Mirpur area under the Dhaka 15 constituency has been left empty since 2:45pm. No journalist or observer could be seen anywhere around.
When the Dhaka Tribune correspondent got in, supporters of Awami Leauge candidate Kamal Ahmed Majumder snatched her mobile phone. She managed to escape their rage somehow with the help of a photojournalist and met many other journalists outside the centre. They said they had all been thrown out of the centre by the same men.
At least 50 of Kamal’s supporters could be seen in the various booths inside the centre, vigorously stamping seals on the “boat,” on one ballot paper after another. They were all wearing badges that carried Kamal’s photo and name.
Around 2:45pm, an 18-year-old boy named Jahirul Islam entered the centre. He already had indelible ink on his right thumb.
When asked what was going on, a polling officer said: “Just leave the centre. They [Kamal’s supporters] will get ferocious [if you do not].”
Soon after, Jahirul and 10 others could be seen entering the next booth, taking out the bundle of ballot papers and stamping on the boat – as many as they could.
Presiding Officer Abdun Noor said: “I do not know anything. Suddenly the school campus got crowded with ‘boat men.’ They started threatening the reporters into leaving the centres.”
Around 3:45pm, one of the “voters” started teasing the journalists gathered in front of the centre. “Observe as much as you like, but nothing will change. At least 50% votes have to be cast.”
The presiding officer said less than 10% of the registered voters cast their votes till 3:15pm at the Monipur High School centre.