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Observer forced out at gunpoint, but ballots stamped with wrong seal!

By UNB, DHAKA
29th-Apr-2015       
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A registered election observer from Mass Line Media Centre, a local NGO that has been engaged in observing elections since 2003, was forced to leave a polling centre at gunpoint, as 'ruling party men' engaged in acts of rigging.
The entire story of what the observer, Syed Ibne Masud, saw as he arrived at his assigned polling centre, the Siddheswari Girls' High School in Dhaka South City Corporation, on Tuesday morning, is a particularly disturbing event on a day when there is no shortage of incidents that discredited the election overall. "I arrived at the voting centre around 7:50am and the first thing I saw was a group of men stamping ballots in favour of the AL-backed candidate and stuffing them inside a box," Masud said to UNB.
Seeing his observer badge, he said that the assistant presiding officer of the centre rushed to him in a helpless state and said "ruling party men" had snatched the ballot papers and seals from the election officials stationed there. Before he could do anything, Masud alleged that members of Bangladesh Chhatra League entered the centre, and putting a gun to his head, forced him to leave.
This was later confirmed to UNB by Kamrul Hassan, executive director of MMC. He also said Masud was so shaken by the experience that he had to be relieved of his duties.
In an almost comic twist to the farce ensuing inside the centre, Masud relayed how in their hurry to stuff the box with as many ballots as possible, the perpetrators failed to even realize they were stamping the ballots in favour of the AL-backed candidate with the wrong seal - the seal of the Election Commission, instead of the one used for voting!
That explains why later in the day at the same centre, a voter called Nazrul Islam complained that the ballot he was provided with to vote for mayor was already stamped, inexplicably at the time, with the seal of the EC. He was subsequently provided a fresh ballot paper.
Kamrul Hassan, whose organization will give its formal verdict on the polling soon, told UNB that the day had been "rife with irregularities".
"The vote was perhaps clean in just 1 in 100 polling centres. The other 99 witnessed irregularities of various kinds," Hassan said. Asked whether the election could be termed credible, the MMC boss said simply: "No".

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