The country is witnessing very low turnout of voters as people preferred to stay back at their houses either fearing violence or due to lack of interest in the 10th parliamentary election.
Our reporters in Dhaka and other 58 districts where voting is taking place reported that polling officials sat idle for a long time to see the voters turning up to practice their voting rights.
“The fact that all political parties are not participating in the election has contributed to the low turn up,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad said at a press conference around 1:45pm.
He also cited dense fog in northern districts for the thin voter presence.
Asked about the percentage of votes already cast, he refrained from giving any answer saying they had not gathered data from all the constituencies.
“We hope the number will increase as time passes,” he said replying to a query.
Fear gripped the countrymen as the “one-sided” general election is unlikely to end the present political crisis and violence that has already cost at least 120 lives in less than two months.
Total 153 candidates out of 300 have already been elected unopposed, meaning more than half the country’s 9.19 crore voters did not get to cast ballots.
Usually when the country goes to a national election, it witnesses festive mood with the participation of voters as they used to come in polling centres and stand in long queues before the polling booths long before the voting starts.
But this year, the turnout is almost zero percent at different polling centres including Rangpur-3 constituency around 8:20am, media reports said.
Starting from 8:00am, the voting will continue till 4:00pm without any break.
Voting was suspended at 160 centres due to torching of polling booths and snatching of ballot boxes and papers.
Some centres held up polls as polling agents did not turn up to their voting booths in Munshiganj, reports Bangla daily Prothom Alo.
This polls is also shunned by international observers. None of the western countries has sent any election observer, as they believe that this election excluding the BNP will not be credible.
In December alone, at least 80 people were killed and more than 850 people wounded in arson attacks and clashes.
Our correspondent covering the polls reported from Shaheed Community Centre in Lalbagh (Dhaka-7 constituency) that the first vote was cast at 8:08am at the centre.
Another correspondent reported that only 10 voters have cast their votes at Shahjadpur Nazar Mahmud Alim Madrasa centre in Dhaka-17 constituency until 9:00am.
Our Chittagong correspondent reports that he only saw four people standing before Bijoy Sarani University College polling centre at Bhatiari in Sitakunda in the morning.
Mizanur Rahman Khandaker, presiding officer of the centre, told The Daily Star that no vote was cast at his centre until 8:15am.
In Sylhet, voting at most polling centres started with thin attendance of voters.
Only six people exercised their franchise power at two centres in Gowainghat and Bishwanath upazilas until 8:35am while only 15 were waiting in the queues.
Fifty-four votes were cast their votes at Shibpur Vocational Institute centre in Charghat upazila of the city in the first hour, reports our Rajshahi correspondent.
Only two voters cast their votes till 8:20am in Baligaon High School centre in Tangibari upazila of Munsiganj-2 constituency, reports Prothom Alo.
However, voting could not begin at several centres as polling agents for the candidates were yet to reach the centres, said presiding officers Rafiqul Islam and Habibur Rahman.
A single vote was not cast at Municipality Govt Primary School centre in Kushtia Sadar upazila till 8:30am.
Among the 2,500 voters in the area, none were seen standing in queue, the Bangla daily reports.
Three people exercised their voting rights till 8:50am at the Laujani Primary School centre in Jessore-2 constituency, said presiding officer Harunur Rashid.