Ruling party supporters create fake voter queues at Kabi Nazrul Government College voting centre during IGP’s visits
A polling agent of an Awami League candidate in Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) election has been seen “helping” people cast their votes inside the polling booth, where no one is allowed except the voter.
During a visit to the Kabi Nazrul Government College voting centre in Lakshmibazar area around 10:20am Saturday, this correspondent found that the polling agent was going with every voter inside the polling booth on the ground floor.
The agent, Omar Faruk, is an executive member of the ruling party’s Ward 42 unit and representing the ruling party’s DSCC mayor candidate Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.
Omar told Dhaka Tribune: “I am just helping the voters because they are facing problems.”
Soon after, Omar escorted another voter inside the polling booth by holding his hand after he came in and cleared the biometric identification process.
He then was heard telling the voter: “You are a supporter of Haji Shaheb [local Awami League MP Haji Md Selim], aren’t you? So, here is your vote on Boat... Yes, we’re done. Let’s go outside now.”
In another case, a voter cast his votes by pressing the buttons on the electronic voting machine (EVM), but forgot to press confirm buttons. After the voter left, Omar was seen pressing all the confirm buttons.
“As you saw, I just helped them cast their votes,” he told this correspondent in front of Assistant Presiding Officer Kaisar Raihan who did not stop Omar.
When asked, Kaisar declined to comment on the issue, but requested to report from a “positive angle.”
He, however, said: “The voters are easily adapting to the procedures of EVM. There have been no complications.”
Kaisar added that there were no polling agents of the BNP candidates present at the centre, where journalists were also restricted from taking photos of the voting process.
‘Your vote’s already been cast digitally’
Meanwhile, a voter was left confused and angry when he went to cast his vote at the AG Church School polling centre on New Eskaton in Moghbazar in the afternoon.
The man, named Sajidur Rahman, found out that his vote was already cast right after he made it through the biometric identification process at the centre around 3:30pm, reported Dhaka Tribune’s Staff Reporter Ali Asif Shawon who was present at the scene.
Sajidur’s vote was cast by a youth who was from the Awami League candidates’ camp at the centre. The youth had entered the polling booth immediately after Sajidur’s identity was confirmed though his national identity card.
As he entered the booth, the youth told Sajidur that his vote was cast as it was “a digital system.”
Sajidur protested the idea, saying he did not even touch anything inside the booth. “How is it possible that my vote has been cast?”
At that time, a local ruling party leader from the Awami League councillor candidate’s camp came in and tried to convince Sajidur, making the same “digital system” argument.
Sajidur was not convinced and appeared angry, but he was then escorted out of the booth.
However, he declined to comment on the matter when Dhaka Tribune approached him.
Fake queues for police top brass
Earlier, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Md Javed Patwary, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam, DMP’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit Chief Monirul Islam and other police officials had arrived at the at Kabi Nazrul Government College polling centre on a sudden visit around 10:30am.
Seeing them, nearly 100 leaders and activists of the local Awami League unit and the college unit, who were present in and around the polling centre, quickly stood in two queues inside the centre making it look like the place was seeing high presence of voters.
In reality, voter presence was very poor at this centre even after two and a half hours after the polling started at 8am.
However, seeking the fake queues, the IGP asked why the line of voters was not moving and told officials to free up spaces so the line could move ahead.
Officials followed the order, but no one from the queues entered the centre.
The ruling party supporters dispersed from the queues after the IGP and other top police officials left.