• Sunday, Jul 03, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

No interruptions to polls… except lunch break?

  • Published at 04:23 am December 31st, 2018
WEB_Dohar_Female Ansar_Mahmud Hossain Opu
A female Ansar member patrols at a polling centre at Dohar, under Dhaka 1 constituency, on Sunday Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Further, some centres closed permanently after the break, with ruling party activists blocking the gates

Although the Election Commission said voting would be held from 8am-4pm on Sunday without interruption, many voters claimed they were not allowed to vote from 1pm-2pm.

Further, some centres closed permanently after the break, with ruling party activists blocking the gates. Some voters waited in queue until the ballots closed at 4pm, and had to leave without casting their votes.

Dhaka 7 constituency

At least seven polling centres in the Dhaka 7 constituency - Rahamatullah High School (Boys Branch), Rahamatullah High School (Girls Branch), Jagat Mohan Government Primary School, Nawabganj Shaat Shaheed Community Centre, Azimpur Model Government Primary School, Lalbagh Government Girls’ Primary School, and Azimpur Girls High School - were found to have closed their main gates at 3pm. 

Awami League candidate and incumbent MP Md Selim, popularly known as Haji Selim, and Oikya Front candidate Mostafa Mohsin Montu contested the polls in the constituency.

At the Rahamatullah High School, voters were initially notified that the election officials were on lunch break, but they were not given the opportunity to cast their votes later.

When this correspondent asked to enter the polling centre, a local Awami League leader with a boat symbol badge said there had been some problems and the centre was closed for voting. The correspondent was only allowed to enter after revealing that he was a journalist. 

Inside, at least 10 boat supporters were found to be hanging around with ID cards, chit-chatting freely. No voters were inside the polling booths, and the presiding officer and assistant presiding officers were lazily passing their time. Two people slipped out of sight after seeing the correspondent enter. 

When a polling agent representing hand fan was asked about the situation, he said: “This country is not a country anymore. Speak to the officers.”

Presiding Officer Iqbal Hossain said: “There were no problems here. I heard some noise from outside, and the casting of votes was suspended for some time, but it resumed after 10 minutes.”

Meanwhile, 10 to 30 voters were found waiting in front of the polling centres at Jagat Mohan Government Primary School and Nawabganj Shaat Shaheed Community Centre around 3:20pm. The gates of the centres had already been locked.

Dhaka 12 constituency

At the Bangladesh Textile University polling centre, a police officer asked this correspondent when the polling officials were going to call in the public to cast their votes, as they had been waiting for some time now. The officials had been taking a break for lunch.

Polling officials at the BG Press Government Primary School also took a break for lunch around 1pm. When this correspondent entered the polling centre around 1:45pm, several Awami League activists were seen casting votes, each of them casting multiple ballots at a time.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, BG Press Government Primary School Presiding Officer Abdul Sattar said: “I am not concerned about this mater. We were busy with our lunch, and they [the Awami League activists] took this chance to do this.”

Dhaka 14 constituency

Voters have alleged that voting was suspended for hours at three polling centres in the constituency - Darus Salam High School, BADC High School, and FM International School.

When visiting the Darus Salam High School around 11am, the reporter learned from law enforcement officials that incumbent lawmaker Aslamul Haque would send them lunch.

Later, when the reporter was at BADC High School around 12:55pm, a three-wheeler carrying lunch boxes reached the polling centre. Election officials at the centre said voting would be suspended for a 30 minute lunch break.

After entering the centre with some activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, the reporter found 60-70 youths there, in addition to polling and law enforcement officials. As the police went to their rooms to eat, the youths entered the polling booths. As time passed, one of the youths told the queue outside to wait a little longer.

Presiding Officer Abu Sadek Mohammad Habibur Rahman said the youths were helping the public cast their votes smoothly.

A 34 year-old resident of the area, asking to remain anonymous, later told the Dhaka Tribune he had to leave the centre without voting as he could not spend so much time waiting.

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