Ballot box stuffed for 'boat', Prothom Alo journo beaten for taking photo

Ballot paper with stamps on the boat symbol. photo taken from Nasirabad Govt Boys High School centre in Chattogram city around 2:45pm on Sunday, 7 January 2024.Prothom Alo

There was an incident of ballot stuffing for the boat symbol at a polling centre in Chattogram-10 constituency. The incident took place at booth 1 on the first floor of Nasirabad Govt Boys High School centre in the city around 2:45pm today, Sunday.

Meanwhile, Prothom Alo correspondent Mosharrof Shah was beaten up for taking photographs of the incident. They snatched Mosharrof’s cellphone and erased the photo and video he had taken. Later, the photographs were recovered from the phone’s recycle bin.

While visiting the centre around 2:45pm no voter was found there. Some people with 'boat' cards hanging around their necks were noticed wandering about the centre.

A peek inside one of the rooms on the first floor revealed a person was found stamping ballots on the boat symbol. When he sensed the presence of a journalist, he left the room. The sight was the same in one of the adjoining rooms in front of the polling officers right there at the time.

While questioned presiding officer Rajib Das on the instant about this, he told journalists that those stamped ballots would be cancelled. When asked how the ballots could be stamped in his presence like this, he said that he didn’t see it because he was in the washroom.

Describing the incident, Mosharrof Shah said that about 20 to 30 boat supporters entered the centre while he was still talking to the presiding officer. They forcibly took his cellphone and notebook away.

When he didn’t agree to give away his cellphone, some of them started slapping and punching him. Despite reporting it to the police and security personnel present, they didn’t take any measures. He raced out of the centre and got his cellphone back after almost an hour.

People who were stuffing the ballots and beat Mosharrof up are leaders and activists of Khulshi police station Chhatra League unit. One of them identified himself as Nurul Absar, general secretary of Khulshi police station Chhatra League unit.

Later when contacted him over the phone, Khulshi police station Chhatra League general secretary Nurul Absar told Prothom Alo that he has heard about the incident but he’s not involved in it. He was there in that centre in the morning, but not in the afternoon.

Khlushi police station officer-in-charge (OC) Sheikh Md Neyamat Ullah told Prothom Alo that nobody has informed him about the incident. He will look into the matter.

Nasirabad Govt Boys’ High school was the centre for the male voters from the eastern parts of ward no. 8 of the city corporation. There were total 2,156 voters in this centre. The presiding officer had claimed that 774 people had cast their votes in that centre till 2:00pm.

Earlier in the morning, two people were shot during a clash between the supporters of 'boat' and 'cauliflower' symbols in another centre of this constituency, Khulshi’s Pahartali Degree College. At that time a youth named Shamim was seen firing shots also.

Also Read

Chattogram-10 constituency consists of ward no. 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 24, 25 and 26 of the city corporation. There are total 148 polling centres and 485,000 (4.85 lakh) voters in this constituency.

Md Mohiuddin Bacchu is contesting the election from this constituency with boat symbol while former Chattogram City Corporation mayor Mohammad Manzur Alam is vying the polls independently with 'cauliflower' symbol.