Dhaka: The voting for 299 seats in the 11th general election in Bangladesh ended at 4 PM (10:00 GMT) on Sunday. The counting of the votes will begin from 5 PM onwards. Around 600,000 security personnel, including soldiers, were deployed across the country. However, the election turned violent as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cast her vote in the capital, Dhaka. Supporters of Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) engaged in a clash which resulted in the death of atleast 12 people, said reports.
The supporters clashed at 6.30 AM local time and shots were fired. Earlier in the day, two people were reported dead. Of the two deceased, one was identified as Md Basir Uddin, the Jubo League general secretary of Ghagra Union. He was beaten on the head by opposition supporters during a clash in the southeastern hill district of Rangamati. The other was a Jatiya Party leader who had been shot dead in the clash.
Local police chief Najibul Islam said that Basir died on the way to the hospital.
As per several reports, the ruling Awami League party workers prevented Opposition supporters from voting. Few BNP leaders also have expressed fears that the election would be rigged. Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina’s party dismissed the accusations, saying the opposition has been levelling false allegations prior to the election.
Voting began at 8 AM local time (0200 GMT) across more than 40,000 polling stations. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is seeking a fourth straight term in power, was the first voter at the Dhaka City College centre in the capital where her lawyer nephew and party candidate Fazle Nur Taposh was a contender. She said, “We believe in democracy and we will accept the people’s mandate.”
At least six lakh security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country. Fourteen people have died in pre-election clashes so far.
Mobile operators have been asked to shut down 3G and 4G services until midnight on Sunday “to prevent the spread of rumours” that could trigger unrest during the election. A total of 1,848 candidates are contesting for 299 out of 300 Parliament seats. The polls are being held at 40,183 polling stations.