It was 11:30am. Two men were casting votes standing at a polling booth set up for women voters on the second floor at the Yaqub Ali Dobhas Girls' High School centre in Firingi Bazar ward of the Chattogram City Corporation.
The polling centres JM Sen High School and College and Yaqub Ali Dobhas Girls High School are adjacent to each other. Confrontations were going on since morning between the activists and supporters of two councilor candidates – the ruling Awami League- backed Mohammad Salauddin and the ruling party's rebel candidate Hasan Murad Biplob.
When The Business Standard entered the Yaqub Ali Dobhas High School centre at 11:30 am, Officer-in-Charge of Kotwali police station Nezamuddin was seen preventing journalists from entering the centre at that time.
Sensing that something wrong was going through journalists, however, went inside. Then, some people from a room on the second floor of the school complained that supporters of Awami League councilor candidate had kicked the agents of the rebel candidate out of the centre. At that time, the two men were seen casting votes at the polling booth for women voters.
In this regard, the rebel candidate Biplob told The Business Standard, "With the help of the police, the terrorists of Salauddin forced out my agents from the centre. They even kept a few of my agents confined into a room."
He mentioned the role of the police administration in favour of one particular candidate as "nefarious".
OC Nezamuddin, "I reached the spot after receiving reports of scattered incidents at JM Sen High School and College and Yakub Ali Dobhas Girls' High School from 11am."
He denied the allegation that the police administration acted in favour of any particular candidate. However, as a large number of people gathered on the school grounds, we charged batons to disperse them at around 1.30 pm."
Due to clashes among the two councilor candidates, voting remained suspended for two hours from 11am. Voting resumed after additional members of police, RAB, BGB and SWAT were deployed at the centers, led by Palash Kanti Nath, deputy commissioner (south) of the Chattogram Metropolitan Police.
Another rebel councilor candidate of Awami League, Morshed Akhter Chowdhury from the South Kattoli ward of the city also alleged that some persons forced into the secret polling booths to cast votes for the ruling party candidate. He termed the election as a farce and announced to boycott it.
He said that the Election Commission has staged a farce. Mention that there was no point in going to the polling centre, he said, "Someone else is pressing the switch on behalf of you in the secret room. You cannot vote for the candidate of your choice."
"We have to be vocal against these wrongdoers," he said on Facebook Live at 12 noon on the day.
He further claimed that the election commissioner demanded Tk50 lakh from him. "Returning Officer Hasanuzzaman is making a conspiratorial election. The administration did not cooperate with us in any way," he said.