Ruling party men clashed with opponents and law enforcers, captured polling centres and resorted to stuffing and snatching ballot boxes in more than two dozen out of 115 upazilas that went to polls yesterday.
Raising allegations of vote rigging and booth capture, BNP-blessed candidates boycotted elections in 11 upazilas and demanded re-elections in four.
Local units of the opposition party called hartal in 10 upazilas for today, tomorrow or
the day after.
Noakhali district was worst hit by violence. A Shibir activist was killed when police opened fire to disperse Awami League and BNP-Jamaat activists fighting over the control of a polling centre in Sonaimuri upazila.
Vote was called off at all 117 polling stations in Noakhali Sadar upazila as the situation went out of control.
Besides, voting was suspended in 35 polling stations in 14 upazilas, including three in Sonaimuri, 11 in Barisal Sadar, eight in Feni Sadar and six in Faridganj, according to the Election Commission.
In contrast, elections were largely peaceful in upazilas of Lalmonirhat, Bogra, Bandarban, Kishoreganj, Rangpur, Mymensingh, Dinajpur, Khagrachhari, Brahmanbaria and Joypurhat districts.
Yesterday’s polls were marked by violence more intense than that in the first phase. Ruling party supporters seemed desperate to ensure win of the AL favourites after BNP-Jamaat-backed candidates fared better on February 19.
AL activists also came under attack in some upazilas.
For violating electoral laws, 26 people were sentenced to different terms and fined by mobile courts in different electoral areas, our district correspondents report.
In Noakhali, the supporters of AL-backed chairman candidate AFM Babul tried to capture Nandiapara Degree College polling centre, firing gunshots and exploding crude bombs around 1:30pm, said eyewitnesses.
A clash broke out as the supporters of 19-party-backed chairman aspirant Anwarul Haque resisted the ruling party men. At one stage, law enforcers opened fire to bring the situation under control.
Saddam Hossain, 22, a resident of Nandiapara and a supporter of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, died on the spot.
Abdus Samad, officer-in-charge of Sonaimuri Police Station, confirmed the report of the death. He said locals took away the body.
Chairman aspirants backed by the BNP boycotted the polls in Compniganj and Kabirhat brining allegations of vote rigging, while the party-blessed candidate in Chatkhil demanded re-polling.
In Jessore, AL men allegedly took control of at least 60 out of 273 polling centres in three upazilas — Jhikargachha, Chaugachha and Sharsha after driving out polling agents of BNP-supported candidates.
They also snatched ballot papers without any resistance from law enforcers, said witnesses.
At least 50 people including a BNP-supported chairman aspirant and four journalists were beaten up by AL men in these upazilas. The BNP has called daylong hartal in Sharsha and Chaugachha for tomorrow.
In Fakirhat upazila of Bagerhat, at least 15 people, including two BGB members, were injured in a clash with supporters of a chairman candidate backed by the AL.
Executive Magistrate Ariful Islam said Jamal and Ajmal, supporters of candidate Sardar Niamat Hossain, were disturbing voters by blocking roads near the Satshika Government Primary School centre in the morning.
The duo misbehaved when the BGB men tried to drive them away, he said. After the paramilitary personnel picked them up, Niamat Hossain and his men tried to snatch them triggering the fight.
“Niamat Hossain assaulted me when he and his men tried to free the duo,” he said, adding he ordered the BGB men to open blank fire to control the situation and pick up four including Niamat.
Following the incident, alleged supporters of Niamat attacked the polling centre and snatched ballot boxes, witnesses said.
However, Niamat claimed BGB men beat him up on order of the magistrate, as he wanted to know why two of his men were detained. He was admitted to Fakirhat Health Complex after release.
In Gopalganj, a police constable was injured by supporters of chairman aspirant AL leader SM Shah Alam when he along with his colleagues tried to resist ballot stuffing at Dakkhhinpara Government Primary School polling centre as the voting began around 8:00am.
Around 10:30am, the supporters tried to attack the polling centre following a rumour that Shah Alam was detained at the school. Police thwarted the attack by firing rubber bullets and charging batons, leaving 10 injured.
In Meherpur, at least five people were injured on their way to a polling centre at Bholadanga village in Gangni upazila around 8:45am when AL-backed chairman candidate Mokhlesur Rahman’s supporters exploded bombs.
In Jamalpur, at least 18 people were injured in clashes between the supporters of rival candidates in Melandah and Islampur upazilas.
In Rajshahi, some 60 Jamaat men attacked a group of AL workers at Kashabpur Government Primary School around 12 noon. Police opened fire to disperse them.
Incidents of clash, ballot box snatching and fake vote casting were reported from 21 other upazilas.
The BNP-backed candidates boycotted elections to Sharsha, Shibchar, Barisal Sadar, Borhanuddin, Charfassion, Uttar Matlab, Faridganj, Kabirhat, Companiganj, Chakoria and Munshiganj Sadar upazilas.