No agents except of boat, hand fan electoral symbols seen in many centres

Voters wait in queues at Kanaiya Government Primary School centreTanvir Ahammed

There are four polling centres in Chandana High School and College in Gazipur. A visit to the polling centres at around 10:00 on Thursday morning revealed that only the polling agents of boat (the electoral symbol of ruling Awami League nominated mayoral candidate) and hand fan (electoral symbol of Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s mayoral candidate) were there.

Speaking about the absence of the agents of the other six mayoral candidates, the presiding officers said neither any agent of the candidates arrived there nor did anyone apply.

The voting in the Gazipur City Corporation has been on from 8:00 in the morning and will continue until 4:00 in the afternoon. Prothom Alo correspondents could visit the voting situation in 16 centres as of 10:30 am. In that time, polling agent of independent mayoral candidate Jayeda Khatun was found in one centre only. However, the polling agent of boat symbol was seen in all the centres while the agent of hand fan was seen in at least 10 centres. Polling agents of other mayoral candidates were seen in one or two centres.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Jahangir Alam, former Gazipur mayor and chief coordinator of independent candidate Jayeda Khatun’s election campaign said, “We have agents in all the centres. The agents were intimidated but they went to the centres despite that. They faced obstruction there too but they did not budge.”

Jahangir Alam was talking to Prothom Alo after casting his vote at Kanaiya Government Primary School polling centre at around 10:00 am. There was an agent of Jayeda Khatun at that centre.

Voting in all the centres in the Gazipur city polls is being held in electronic voting machine. The EC installed CCTV cameras in all the polling centres as part of its attempt to hold a free and fair election.

No polling agent of independent candidate Jayeda Khatun was seen at Star Academy polling centre at ward no. 47 in Tongi, Gazipur. But there were nine agents of Awami League mayoral candidate Azmat Ullah in all nine polling booths at the centre. There were agents of the candidates of Islami Andolan Bangladesh and Jatiya Party at a few booths.

Presiding officer of the centre Md. Abu Hanifa told Prothom Alo that agents of many candidates are present here. He also said he will have to enquire to inform media which candidates’ agents are absent. Agents of a few candidates came after the start of the voting but they were not allowed to enter, he added.

The number of voters at the centre is 3,775. Nine booths have been prepared for them to cast votes. The turnout was low between 9:00 am and 9:30 am at the centre. That is why there were no queues of voters there.

Regarding the turnout, presiding officer Abu Hanifa said the turnout was better at the beginning of voting. This is rise again later. But he did not calculate how many people cast their votes until 9:30 am, he added.

Agents of several candidates said people of Gazipur have been casting their votes in EVM for the first time. That is why they have been facing some problems especially it is taking time to make the elderly voters understand the process.

Sazzad Hossain, an agent of Islami Andolan’s candidate Gazi Ataur Rahman at booth no. 1 of Star Academy centre said most of the elderly voters do not understand properly how to cast vote through EVM. The officials are helping them.

Roksana Akhter, an agent of AL candidate Azmat Ullah at the same booth said the elderly voters are facing some problems to cast their votes due to shortage of light in the booths. They are taking more time but everyone is being able to cast their votes.

Voting in Gazipur City Corporation started at 8:00 am today. The voting is being held at 480 centres.

* The report has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza