Monday, March 11, 2019 10:19:03 PM
M M Jasim :
The election of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) and the Hall students' unions ended amid huge irregularities, rigging, sporadic clashes and boycott on Monday.
The voting in the much awaited election began on Monday morning at 8am simultaneously in 18 halls and DUCSU after a lull of 28 years.
The students of Kuwait Maitree Hall found a stash of stamped ballots in favour of Bangladesh Chhatra League's panel at 9am.
The general students started their protest and chanted slogans against the hall authorities. Amid students' demonstration, the Dhaka University administration suspended the polls and relieved the hall Provost Dr Shabnam Jahan from her duties.
Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Muhammad Samad announced suspension of voting after he verified the rigging and discovery of stamped ballots.
Dhaka University Proctor Golam Rabbani told reporters that the allegation of vote rigging at Kuwait Maitree Hall was found to be true.
She was replaced by Professor Dr Mahbuba Nasrin over allegation of irregularities.
Election in the halls resumed afresh from 11:10am. New hall Provost Mahbuba Nasrin told journalists on the spot.
A four-member probe body headed by DU Pro-VC (Administration) Professor Muhammad Samad was formed to investigate the incident.
Rokeya Hall students found hidden stash of ballots during the election.
The discovery was made after nearly four hours of protests over discrepancy with the number of ballot boxes available for voting.
Around 11:45am, the ballot boxes were retrieved by the girls. Inside the boxes, were fresh ballots hidden away from the election process.
Protests have been rocking Rokeya Hall since morning over the discrepancy with ballot boxes with girls demanding that the authorities show the remaining three boxes.
Meanwhile, voters, especially non-residential students, of Bijay Ekattar, Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman, Begum Sufua Kamal Hall, Shahidullah Hall and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman halls alleged that they had been waiting into queue from 10:30am but could not cast their votes.
BCL activists captured the polling booths of those centres along with first year residential students, they said.
Students in long queues were waiting outside polling centres from around 7am.
Students of Dr Muhammad Shahidullah Hall of Dhaka University alleged that they could not cast their votes despite waiting for over two hours at Shahidullah, as BCL men were controlling the queue.
After casting votes, BCL men were returning to the voters' line to discourage the voters as the longer queue slowed the voting process.
There were around 400-500 people standing in the queue among whom many thought to be BCL activists who have either already cast their votes or are joining in the line from other areas to cast votes longer and slow the voting process, many general students claimed.
A voter named, Pranto, told The New Nation that he was able to cast his vote at 10:15am after standing in the queue for almost four hours.
Meanwhile, senior leaders of BCL were seen gathering before the entrance of Salimullah Muslim Hall and checking students' ID cards around 11am.
The leaders were allegedly barring non-resident students waiting in queue from casting their votes.
Multiple non-residenti students claimed that the BCL leaders were checking voters' student-ID cards and sending the non-residential students to stand at the rear from the front of the line.
One of the students also claimed that he was waiting at the hall gate since 6:30am to cast his vote but BCL men did not let him enter till 11am.
At Sufia Kamal Hall, the queue for casting votes extended till 'Shikkha Bhaban' and had not moved an inch for the last one hour.
Several voters have alleged of irregularities at some centres.
Attack on candidates
Panel leader for DUCSU Nurul Huq Nur was assaulted allegedly by Chhatra League activists at Rokeya Hall around midday.
Popular quota reformist leader Nur was rushed to hospital last reported in an unconscious state.
According to the witnesses, Nur went to Rokeya Hall during protests over alleged irregularity involving ballot boxes.
"Chhatra League activists attacked Nur," Anisur Rahman KhandakerAnik, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal's Assistant General Secretary candidate for DUCSU, told The New Nation.
"They beat him up in front of Chhatra League President Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and General Secretary Golam Rabbani," he said.
Nur himself was mumbling while being taken to the hospital, that it was Chhatra League activists who pounced on him.
Left coalition's Vice President Candidate Liton Nandi was attacked by members of Bangladesh Chhattra League (BCL), the ruling party student wing.
The incident reportedly took place around 11am when Nandi was about to enter the voting centre at the Haji Mohammad Mohsin Hall.
"They attacked me when I was entering the Hall. Other candidates, who were with me at the time, were also manhandled," Nandi said. "When we went to visit the polling centre at Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall, workers of Chhatra League leader Sunny chased us," he said.
"Though we are candidates of the central panel, we were not allowed to enter," he alleged. "We wanted to meet the provost. They drove us away."
Following the incident, the situation heated up and a running battle broke out between BCL and left coalition activists. However, according to Hall Provost Nizamul Haque Bhuiyan, "Some misunderstanding led to such an incident." The VP candidate Mustafizur Rahman was also assaulted by the BCL men at Surya Sen Hall.
Chhatra League General Secretary and DUCSU General Secretary candidate Golam Rabbani denied all allegations made against Chhatra League regarding attacks on opposition candidates and vote rigging.
Blaming Chhatra Dal, and Quota Reform Movement leaders, he said, "Chhatra Dal and Quota Reform Movement leaders and activists were behind all of these."
"As they were unable to create unrest and instability in the male halls, they targeted female halls to serve their interests," said Rabbani.
Candidates announcement of boycotting polls
Meanwhile, all the student organisations at the university except Bangladesh Chhatra League announced boycott of DUCSU elections in the midway terming it a farce.
They have demanded cancellation the election signs of irregularities and rigging by Monday night and announce fresh election. If the authorities ignore their demand, they announce to go on non-stop protests at Raju Memorial Monument from Tuesday.
Supporters of the Pragatishil Chhatra Oikya, the General Student Rights' Council and Swadhikar Swatantra Parishad and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal begun separate rallies in front of the Vice-Chancellor House demanding cancellation of the polls and holding re-election. The Pragatishil Chhatra Oikya, the General Student Rights' Council and Swadhikar Swatantra Parishad candidates in a joint press briefing at around 1:00pm at Madhu's Canteen declared demands on Monday.
They also demanded immediate re-election and announce student strike at the university on Tuesday.
Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal also announced boycotting the election at a separate press conference and brought out a procession on the campus.
Chief Returning Officer assaulted
Chief Returning Officer for the Ducsu polls, Professor Mahfujur Rahman, faced the wrath of agitated students over allegations of vote rigging and irregularities in the DUCSU polls.
Prof Mahfujur Rahman was returning from his visit to Rokeya Hall, where voting had been suspended amid allegations of irregularities and vote rigging.
He had talked with the students about the proceedings when agitated students, waiting outside of the hall, grabbed and pulled him, demanding answers and justice.
The students also hurled abusive words at Mahfujur Rahman.
Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Professor Akhtaruzzaman said the environment of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union election was normal apart from a few isolated incidents.
"The students have shown such a democratic stance and a mentality of co-existence, which is commendable and praise worthy," he said. In the DUCSU polls, 21 candidates contested for the position of vice-president, 14 for general secretary and 13 for assistant general secretary.
Candidates in DUCSU polls also included 11 for liberation war affairs secretary, 9 for science and technology secretary, 9 common room and cafeteria secretary, 13 for international affairs secretary, eight for literature secretary, 12 for cultural secretary, 11 for sports secretary, 10 for student transport secretary, 15 for social welfare secretary and 88 for member posts.
Panels namely Rezwanul-Rabbani-Saddam from (Chhatra League), Mustafizur-Anisur-Sohel (Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal), Liton-Faysal-Sadek (Pragatishil), Nurul-Rashed-Faruk (Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar), Auroni-Shafi-Amit (Swatantra Jote), Shariar-Rashed-Anup (Chhatra Mukti), Rasel-Shiti-Rahmat (Chhatra Maitree), Nayeem-Shahriar-Fahim (Chhatra League-BCL), Rakibul-Shaili-Jahurul (Chhatra League-JSD), Rabbi-Mahmud-Shariat (Islami Shasantantra) are contesting the polls.
Besides, Swadhikar Swatantra Parishad candidate ARM Asifur Rahman and DU unit Bangladesh Chhatra Federation president Umme Habiba Benozir are running for general secretary.
For 13 positions in students' union in each hall, 27 at Salimullah Muslim Hall, 28 at Jagannath Hall, 17 at Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Hall, 28 at Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall, 29 at Amar Ekushey Hall, 27 at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall, 34 at Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall, 33 at Haji Mohammad Mohsin Hall, 30 at Rokeya Hall, 30 at Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall, 25 at Shamsunnahar Hall, 25 at Kabi Jasimuddin Hall, 22 at Dr Muhammad Shahidullah Hall, 36 at Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall, 30 at Bijoy Ekattor Hall, 27 at Zahurul Haq Hall, 37 at Sir AF Rahman Hall and 26 at Surya Sen Hall are in the race.
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