Published: November 18, 2023, 10:46 PM
In the aftermath of the Brahmanbaria-2 (Sarail-Ashuganj) by-election, allegations of irregularities have led to the suspension of two presiding officers in the Ashuganj upazila.
The suspended officials, Hossain Mohammad Habibur Rahman and Mohammad Shafiullah, faced disciplinary action following an investigation conducted by the Election Commission.
Habibur Rahman, a lecturer (Social Science) at Sohagpur Model College, Ashuganj, presided over the voting centre at Nooraniya Hafezia Madrasa in Jatrapur (centre-95), while Shafiullah, a senior officer of Islami Bank Brahmanbaria branch, oversaw center-127 at Sherpur Government Primary School during the by-election held on November 5.
Reports of irregularities in these two voting centers surfaced in various media outlets post-election, prompting the Election Commission to initiate investigations through the deputy commissioner, returning officer, and police superintendent Mohammad Shakawat Hossain.
The investigation found that both officers were guilty of offenses outlined in Sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the Representation of the People Order, 1991. As a consequence, the Election Commission issued an order for their temporary removal from duty until January 14, 2024. The officials have also been instructed to undergo disciplinary proceedings in accordance with employment rules.
The Election Commission`s directive, dated November 14, further mentioned that within seven days, necessary arrangements and actions will be taken, with a comprehensive report to be submitted promptly.
However, Upazila Executive Officer Shyamal Chandra Bosak clarified that no official communication had been received yet, stating, "They have not officially given us any letter to this effect. They will send a letter to the concerned office."
Earlier on November 7, Mohammad Atiar Rahman, the upazila election officer-2 of the Election Commission, had issued a letter instructing the returning officer and deputy commissioner Mohammad Shahgir Alam to investigate irregularities within three days.
Two committees were formed in response to this directive — one led by Mohammad Ruhul Amin, Additional District Administrator (Revenue), from the office of the Returning Officer, and another by the police, headed by Mohammad Joynal Abedin, Additional Superintendent of Police (DB).
In the by-election results, Awami League-nominated candidate Shahjahan Alam Saju emerged victorious with 66,314 votes, while the nearest independent candidate, Ziaul Haque Mridha, secured 37,557 votes. The investigation committee confirmed irregularities in two centers, leading to the annulment of votes at those locations and the official declaration of Shahjahan Alam Saju as the winner.