Voting at the Ideal School and College centre at Jatrabari on 17 October
Voting at the Ideal School and College centre at Jatrabari on 17 October Tanveer Ahmed

In the one and a half hours since voting started at the Jatrabari Ideal School and College centre in the capital city, only 25 persons cast their votes. There are 3,237 voters in this centre. The rate of votes being cast is 0.77 per cent.

Voting in the by-elections to the Dhaka-5 seat began at 9:00am Saturday in 187 centres. Contesting for this seat are Salahuddin Ahmed with the sheaf of paddy symbol and Kazi Monirul Islam with the boat.

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Presiding officer of the men's voting centre at the second floor of the Jatrabari Ideal School and College, Mahmudunnabi, told Prothom Alo, 25 votes had been cast till 10:30am at his centre. He said there were hardly any voters in the morning, but they were gradually appearing as the day progressed.

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There is another polling centre for men on the first floor of the same building. A total of 1,998 voters are registered there. When asked how many votes had been cast over the one and a half hours since the morning, presiding officer Hamidul Islam said that he hadn't calculated it as yet.

The BNP candidate Salahuddin Ahmed had come to the centre at 9:50am.

At 9:30am, the Awami League candidate Kazi Monirul Islam turned up.

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The 'boat' candidate expressed his satisfaction with the environment at the polling centre and said he was hopeful of victory.

However, the 'sheaf of paddy' candidate Salahuddin Ahmed said that his polling agents were being sent out of the centre. Speaking to newsmen, he said that Awami League activists had created a threatening environment so that voters did not turn up at the centre. He also said that the executive magistrates were doing nothing.

He went on to say that the government and the election commission could do nothing without resorting to rigging. He warned that if there were discrepancies in the voting, a movement to topple the government would start from there.

From the morning, over a hundred persons with the boat symbol badges around their necks had taken position in front of the centre. No one in support of the sheaf of paddy candidate was visible there. There were members of the police in the rooms of the presiding offers, while BGB and RAB personnel were occasionally on patrol.

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The BNP candidate Salahuddin Ahmed is a voter of the Dhaka-4 seat and so could not cast his own vote despite contesting in the by-polls. The Awami League candidate said he had cast his vote in the Jatrabari Ideal School and College centre. The BNP candidate said that the Awami League candidate was lying. There is no way he could have cast his vote at the Dhaka-5 seat because he was a voter in Dhaka-4.

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There are a total of 471,129 voters in the Dhaka-5 constituency. Of them, 241,464 are male and 229,465 are female.