'Voting is faster if shown how to do it'

Khokan Debnath (centre), claiming to be the 'boat centre secretary'. Polling booth 3 at Dakkhin Kattali Fazlul Hazera Degree College centre around 11:15am, 30 July, Chattogram
Prothom Alo

At around 11:15am today, Sunday, 10  to 12 persons were seen crowding around the polling booth 3 (make) at Dakkhin Kattali Fazlul Hazera Degree College centre  during the Chattogram-10 by-election.

At least five of the persons in the crowd had the boat symbol badges (electoral symbol of ruling Awami League) on their chests.

At one point, two of the persons entered the polling booth with a voter. After they emerged from the secret polling booth, one of the men with a boat badge explained to the polling agent, "Voting is faster if shown how to do it."

Newspersons at the centre wanted to know the identity of the man. He said, "I am the boat centre secretary. My name is Khokan Debnath. The machine (EVM) is giving trouble so I was showing how to cast the vote."  

The man was wearing a boat badge with the same name on it. When asked why he had entered the secret polling booth, he replied to journalists, "Many people do not know how to cast their vote. And people are waiting because the machine is giving trouble. That's why I was showing them how."

When the presiding officer Delwar Hossain was asked by journalists about the matter, he replied, "I am looking into it. This shouldn't happen. No one is to enter the secret booth."

Voting began today, Sunday, from 8:00am at the Chattagram-10 (Pahartali-Double Mooring-Halishahar-Panchlaish) by-election and will continue till 4:00pm. Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are being used in all centres.

There are 156 centres, 1,251 polling booths and 6 candidates in this by-election.

The main contest in this by-election is expected to be between the Awami League candidate Md Mohiuddin Bachchu and Jatiya Party candidate Shamsul Alam. The other candidates in the by election are Trinamool BNP's Deepak Kumar Palit (golden fibre), Bangladesh Sangskritik Mukti Jote's Rashid Miah (cane), independent candidate Md Arman Ali (balloon) and Manzurul Islam Bhuiyan (rocket).

Awami League's Afsarul Amin had been the member of parliament in this seat. He passed away on 2 June while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dhaka and his seat was declared vacant. On 8 June, the election commission announced the schedule to the by-election.