Election 2014: voting ends with extraordinarily low turnouts; at least 17 killed

Special Correspondent:

The 10th general election ends on Sunday amid poor turnout of voters and deadly violence, leaving at least 17 people dead all over the country. The general electioin has been boycotted by 28 political parties including all major political parties except the ruling Awami League.

Two activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir were killed in police firing at Deuti in Pirgacha upazila in Rangpur, while two Jamaat men died in clashes between police and anti-election activists at Balapara village in Jaldhaka and Dimla upazilas in Nilphamari.

Besides, a BNP leader was killed in police firing during a clash between anti-election activists and police in sadar upazila in Dinajpur district, while a Jubo Dal activist killed and 15 others, including five with bullets, were injured in a clash with police at North Charchandia village in Shonagazi upazila in Feni and an unidentified youth died as he fell into a water body after being chased by police in Tongibari upazila in Munshiganj.

Police shot two BNP activists to death at the Basudebpur Government Primary School centre in Thakurgaon. The killed BNP activists are Harun (20) and Joynal (21). Witnesses said that a BNP procession with stick wielding protesters tried to come toward the voting centre. The police shot at the approaching protesters when they snatched ballot papers and started to throw them in the pond.

A Jubo Dal leader Jamshed Alam (27) and a Chatra Dal leader Shahidullah were shot dead by the police as they tried to take ballot boxes by force. This happened at the Charchandia Government Primary School at Shonagazi in Feni.

In Munshiganj a Chatra Dal leader Kankan Mia was chased by the police and Awami League men into a pond, where he drowned and died. He was the joint secretary Kathadia – Shimulia Union Chatra Dal.

In Lakhipur oppositioin protesters attacked the Masirpur centre at Ramganj. The police shot dead a protester. The killed protester was Rubel Hossain, a Chatra Shibir activist.

Meanwhile, underage teenagers have been seen casting votes in different voting centres. Pictures posted on social networking sites show young children waiting in line and posing for the camera after casting votes.

Meanwhile, polling at 126 centres of the 12 districts has been postponed due to attacks by anti-election activists, sources at the Election Commission Secretariat said.

The polling is being held in 147 parliamentary constituencies out of 300.

 

The voting began at 8 am and continued till 4 pm without any break. UNB correspondents visiting different polling centres, including Azimpur Girls’ School and RK Chowhdhury University College, Jatrabari Ideal School, Sishu Kalyan Primary School, Sabuj Bidyapith and Shaheed Zia Girls’ High School in Dhaka, found very low turnout of voters in the first hours of voting.

Only 10 people cast votes at Azimpur Girls’ School Centre till 8:35 am. Witnesses said around 100 people gathered to cast their votes in front of West End High School polling centre under Dhaka-7 constituency at about 8am.

However, the number of female voters was higher than the male voters at the centres.

In Soroj International School Centre under Dhaka-15, the voter turnout was very thin in the first hour, said presiding officer Shahjahan Ali Sarker. The presence of media workers was higher than the voters in the centre in the first hour of voting.

Only 9 votes were cast in the centre till 8: 50 am. While talking to the  reporter, a voter, Dadan Miah, said he came to cast his vote in the early morning fearing violence.

Presiding officer Jafarullah Hye of Monipur High School centre under Dhaka-15 constituency said 10 people exercised their franchise till 10 am.

Dhaka city Awami League Information and Research secretary Azizur Rahman Bachhu said voter turnout will increase as the day passes.

In Adarsha High School centre 20 votes were cast till 9:30 am. Ruling party supporters, most of whom are not voters, made a queue at the polling centre to show a good turnout, reports our reporters.

In Monipur Primary School center, 30 people cast their ballots till 10 am. Meanwhile, in MDC Model Institute under Dhaka-16 constituency 320 people cast their votes till 11:15 am while at Dr Md Shahidullah Adarsha High School 90 votes were cast 11:30 am.

Haji Mohammad Selim, independent candidate of Dhaka-7 constituency, said election is being held peacefully in different centres. He expressed hope to win in the elections.

In Kajlarchar High School centre, 10% votes were cast till 11 am. Poor voter turnout was also reported from different districts, including Chapainwabganj, Jamalpur, Feni, Laxmipur and Sylhet districts.

The opposition alliance is boycotting the election as its demand for a non-partisan interim-government to oversee the election has gone unheeded. In its last-ditch efforts to stop the election, the BNP-led 18-party alliance enforced non-stop blockade and 48-hour hartal programmes across the country.

Over 130 people have been killed across the country in election-related violence across the country since the Election Commission announced the election schedule on November 25.

All the efforts by the international community and the civil society members to convince the government to hold an inclusive election has gone in vain as the current regime and the Election Commission are saying that the election has to be held by January 24 for maintaining the constitutional process.

A total of 4,39,38938 voters out of the country’s 9,19,65,977 will be able to exercise their franchises to choose the representatives of the 147 constituencies from 380 candidates. Out of 40 registered political parties, 12 parties are contesting the election.

Source: BD Chronicle