Stray incidents on poll day

At least thirty people, including five journalists were injured during clashes in the Dhaka South City Corporation and Dhaka North City Corporation elections. While visiting different centers in DSCC and DNCC, most of the voters expressed their satisfaction over the law and order situation that prevailed during the election.

However, BNP backed candidates alleged that many of their agents were barred from entering the polling centers for discharging their election duties. DMCH sources said at least five journalists were attacked and assaulted while they were performing their duties in city elections. Journalists claimed that unruly activists of ruling Awami League and its student front Bangladesh Chhatra League allegedly attacked them.

Mostafizur Rahman Sumon, a crime reporter of online news portal Agami News, was attacked while taking photos of a gathering of Awami League activists at Zafrabad in Mohammadpur. Followers of AL-backed councilor candidate Md Hossain Khokon attacked him with cricket stump and snatched away his phone.

He was first taken to the Sikder Medical College Hospital and was later transferred to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Mostafiz got six stitches on his head and later he was admitted to the hospital,said Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of DMCH Police Outpost.

“None of my supporters beat him. Other people wearing the badge of my election symbol attacked him,” councilor candidate Khokon told journalists. About the attack, Benazir Ahmed, Director General of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said, “We are working to identify the attackers through CCTV footage, after identifying them we will take action against them.”

He said, Mostafiz was attacked at Sadek Khan road of Mohammadpur area. After getting the information, I came to see him in Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Inspector General of Police Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary also said strict action will be initiated against those who assaulted on-duty journalists during the ongoing Dhaka city corporation elections. When journalists informed him about the attack on Mostafizur, he said he was unaware of any such incident.

"However, I am ordering concerned departments to investigate if the incident did indeed occur. If it is true, those who assaulted the journalists will face strict action," he said while visiting Banani Bidya Niketon School and College in Banani around 12:15pm on Saturday.

Responding to an allegation of candidates and voters being barred from entering polling centres, the IGP said he had not seen any such situation while visiting different centres. "However, if anyone bars people from casting votes, action will be taken against them," he added.

SM Azad, crime reporter of Bangla daily Kaler Kantha claimed that followers of AL-backed councilor candidate attacked their photo journalist Sheikh Hasan. A correspondent of Photo Bangla Agency (PBA) was beaten up while covering city corporation elections at Nikunja Jan-e-Alam School around 10:30am. He was identified as Ibrahim Sarker, a special correspondent of the agency. The photojournalist was taken to Apollo Hospital with critical injuries.

Two other journalists were also assaulted at Faridabad Madrasah polling center in old town. BCL activists allegedly assaulted Bangladesh Pratidin staff reporter Mahabub Momtaji and The Daily Business Standard staff reporter Nurul Amin while they were collecting information of irregularities.

They also snatched mobile phones of the two journalists and deleted some important information from the phone sets. Getting information Assistant Commissioner Abdul Hannan of DMP’s Wari Division rushed to the spot and rescued the journalists. He also recovered the phone sets of the journalists.

Nurul Amin said, " BCL activists confined us for one and a half hours and assaulted us and took away our mobile sets.” However, police rescued us and recovered our phone sets, he added. At least twenty people including five journalists had to take treatment in Dhaka Medical College Hospital, who were injured in the election violence.

Inspector Bacchu Miah, officer-in-charge of DMCH Police Camp said, “They were brought to DMCH between 12:am and 5:pm. Most of the victims were injured in brickbats between the rival groups. In Demra, Engineer Monira Chowdhury, who is the ruling Awami League backed candidate for reserved seat was injured in an attack allegedly carried out by BNP nominated councilor candidate Nilufa Islam.

Monira’s husband Atikur Rahman, her brother Masum Chowdhury and her supporter Rasel was also injured in the clash. They were brought to DMCH around 2:30 am, but were released after taking treatment. At Civil Aviation School center in city’s Nakhalpara area, three people were injured in a clash between AL nominated councilor Ashraf Uddin Kanchon and AL’s rival candidate Monjur.

Shaquat Hossain Khokon and Abdul Maleq were injured. Two persons were injured in a clash between AL and BNP supporters in city’s Kathalbagan area. One Atique and Nasir Uddin were injured. BNP supporter Khalilur Rahman was beaten up while he was entering Segunbagicha Ideal School center. Supporters of Ruji Joyiya, a candidate for female reserved seat, were stabbed in city’s Lalmatita. They were identified as Roni and Shipon.

Two persons were injured in city’s Uttara sector 14. They were Miraj and Saddam Hossain. AL supporter Idris Ali was injured while Jatiya Party supporter Sagor was injured in Jatrabari area. BNP supporters attacked Bangladesh Chattra League leader Jubayer Hossain Shamol.

BNP's Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) candidate Tabith Awal's main polls agent Moazzem Hossain Alal came under a bomb attack in city’s Monipur area, BNP leaders claimed. Mahmud Hasan, the media coordinator of Tabith alleged that a group of miscreants hurled five bombs at his vehicle when he was visiting Monipur High School and College (Branch-2) in Ibrahimpur area around noon.

A tense situation prevailed in the area after the incident.
A brawl broke out in front of Bakshi Bazar Government Primary School polling center between Awami League and BNP supporters at Ward no 27. Locals in the area told journalists that five or six crude bombs went off when the clash broke out. They said that BNP supporters hurled brickbats at the Awami League supporters when BNP councilor candidate Shaheda Morshed was barred from entering the polling station with her supporters.

Awami League supporters retaliated, and the two rival groups started hurling brickbats at each other. Moreover, bombs were hurled by both the groups, which created further unrest. BNP councilor candidate Shaheda Morshed told journalists that her supporters did not initiate the fight.

“We heard the sounds of bombs going off. We were really scared for our lives,” she added. The polling station’s Presiding Officer Mostafizur Rahman said voting was halted for a few minutes because of the unrest. Witnesses also told journalists that bombs were hurled from a two-storied building next to the polling station.

After visiting the polling station, Executive Magistrate Hasina Islam told journalists: “Our main concern is the polling station itself. Everything is going fine inside the polling station. Both the parties are blaming each other for the clash that happened outside the polling station.”

When contacted, Chawk Bazar police station Officer-In-Charge Moudud Hawladar told that there had been a clash between two rival groups, but the situation was brought under control. “The situation is under control now. The clash lasted only for few minutes. The voters are casting their votes peacefully now,” added Hawladar.

However, BNP and Awami League councilor candidates alleged that their agents were injured in the clash. Awami League-backed councilor aspirant Aleya Sarwar Daisy, also known as Daisy Sarwar, has come under attack allegedly by her rival candidate in Mohammadpur area of Dhaka.

Daisy is running for the councilor’s office in Ward 31 in the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) elections. The incident took place around 1pm on Saturday. Ashfia Atik Raka, women affairs secretary of Ward 31 unit Swechchhasebak League, said a group of Jatiya Party (JP)-backed councilor candidate Shafiqul Islam Sentu's followers, led by Salam and Labu, attacked Daisy at Baitul Falah Madrasa centre situated on Sher Shah Suri Road.

They tore her winter shawl and locked in a brawl with her supporters, she said. Daisy informed the matter to Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Deputy Commissioner (DC) Biplab Talukder. “The police official assured that he would take steps over the matter, but she (Daisy) was yet to find any visible action,” Raka added.

Despite several attempts, this correspondent could not reach Sentu over mobile phone for his comment on the attack. Ahead of the elections, Daisy produced a hip-hop track that outlined her plans for the area, creating a storm on the social media.

Her video song "Daisy Apar Salam Nin, Latim Markay Vote Din" went viral on social media site Facebook. It was shared from countless Facebook pages and accounts, and on YouTube as well. There have been reports of bomb blasts in at least three spots during the Dhaka city election. BNP has also alleged that some of its agents have been driven out of polling stations. But Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the voting of Dhaka south and north city corporations’ elections is underway in a fair and sound environment.

“There is no news of unwanted incident so far,” he told journalists after casting his vote at Rajdhani High School centre, Manik Mia avenue of the city. Hoping that the voting will end in a sound and safe environment, the home minister said adequate security measures have been taken and security forces are ready to tackle any situation.

Noting that there is no security threat, Kamal urged the voters to come to the voting centres and exercise franchisees in favour of their candidates.