Atar Ali Sheikh, 62, a resident of Naopara area in Kushtia’s Mirpur pourashava area, died on 6 August. Two other residents of the area, Rabeya Khatun, 78, passed away on 10 July and Nur Islam Pramanik, 50, on 21 December. Locals said some other people also died. Local residents confirmed at least 25 people of the area area are either living abroad or other districts.
But the vote count at Naopara Government Primary School polling center of the area belies the statistics as the center saw 100 per cent voter turnout during the recently held pourashava polls on 16 January. This abnormal picture of voter turnout has been revealed at the centre-wise vote count published by the returning officer, in charge of voting.
Data of voter turnout in each centers of Kushtia, Mirpur, Bheramara and Kumarkhali pourashavas has been collected from the district election office on Wednesday.
According to the information of the district election office, 84.96 per cent vote was cast at 10 polling centers in Mirpur pourashava polls held through traditional ballot paper. Seven polling centers saw over 80 per cent vote, two centers over 79 per cent while the Naopara Government Primary School center saw 100 per cent turnout.
According to the election commission, 65 per cent vote was cast in the first phase pourashava polls held on 28 December in different pourashavas of the country while vote count was 61.92 per cent in the second phase polls on 16 January.
There are 1,415 voters in the center. Of the total votes, Awami League candidate got 1,024 votes while BNP candidate got 176 votes, independent candidate got 171 and 44 votes were cancelled.
This abnormal turnout has spawned discussion in the district. Awami League candidate Enamul Haque asked the voters to cast their votes for him openly during two campaign rallies. His remarks went viral on social media. Talks are there whether the speech from the ruling party candidate encouraged the abnormal voter turnout in the center.
BNP candidate Rahmat Ali and independent candidate Arifur Rahman complained of vote rigging in the center.
At a press conference on Monday, the candidates alleged that such abnormal turnout took place in connivance with the returning officer to ensure victory of the ruling party candidate.
The two candidates also urged the authorities to annul the election and retake it.
Presiding officer of the center Abu Bakar Siddique, who is also a school teacher, on Wednesday came up with an explanation for such abnormal turnout.
“Voting officials of the booths can say better how the voters cast their votes. As 100 per cent vote was counted, it is normal. The voting was fair on the day of election. No untoward incident took place,” Abu Bakar told Prothom Alo.
Asked about the matter, Kusthia Nagorik Committee general secretary and teacher of Islamic University Selim Toha told Prothom Alo, “This is surprising. Because many enlisted voters might die. It’s a matter to ponder how these votes were cast. The election commission should look into it.”
In the pourashava, Awami League candidate got 10,420 votes while independent candidate 2,547 votes and BNP candidate 1,736 votes.