Polling underway in Bangladesh, mobile internet shut down

Dhaka: Polling for the 11th Parliamentary elections is underway across Bangladesh, with 104.2 million voters expected to cast their votes after an elections campaign that was dotted by violence.

Voting began at 8:00 am on Sunday and will continue till 4:00 pm (local time). The 10th Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, cast her ballot at Dhaka City College just a few minutes after voting commenced.

However, voting was suspended at a centre in Noakhali – 3 after miscreants allegedly took away all voting material, according to The Daily Star.

The government had, on November 29, completely shut off mobile internet services in the country. The services will resume after 1:00 am (local time) tomorrow, with nearly 8.60 crore people being affected by the government’s decision.

On the other hand, voting has been postponed in the Jhenaidah 3 constituency by the Bangladesh Election Commission to January 27, 2019, due to the death of four supporters of the Jatiya Oikya Front’s (National Unity Front) candidate. They were allegedly hacked to death with sharp weapons by supporters of the ruling party at Kotchandpur upazila on Saturday.

The ongoing polls are significant, as for the first time in Bangladesh’s electoral history, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used in six constituencies.

There are 40,183 polling centres and 2,07,312 polling booths in the 299 constituencies; among which 25,827 (64 per cent) of polling centres have been marked as important.

Moreover, security has been beefed up in 389 upazilas till January 2.

The ruling Bangladesh Awami League-led Grand Alliance will be locking horns against the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led Jatiya Oikya Front (National Unity Front) and Left Democratic Alliance, where 300 constituencies of the 350-member Parliament are up for grabs. Incumbent Prime Minister Hasina is seeking to win a third term.