The much-awaited elections to the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union and hall students’ unions are going to be held today after a gap of 28 years.
The Dhaka University, considered as a breeding ground for democratic and cultural movements in Bangladesh, is teeming with the leaders and activists of all student organisations.
Chief returning officer SM Mahfuzur Rahman said that they had completed all necessary preparations for the elections and hoped that the polls would be held amid festivity and enthusiasm.
The polling would continue from 8:00am to 2:00pm and classes and examinations of the university will remain suspended for the day.
Proctor Golam Rabbani said that the university buses will operate normally so that non-resident students might easily come to the campus to exercise their voting rights.
The university authorities already sent ballots and ballot boxes to the polling stations, set up at halls, Sunday evening, causing suspense among the candidates of opposite camps.
Many opposition candidates expressed fear that the move was made for ballot rigging overnight by the ruling Awami League-backed Bangladesh Chhatra League.
Leaders, activists and candidates of left panel, independent panels, and quota reformists laid siege to the office of vice chancellor M Akhtaruzzaman Sunday afternoon protesting at the move.
They submitted a memorandum to the vice-chancellor demanding transparent ballot boxes and engagement of polling agents and supply of ballots and ballot boxes to the polling stations on the polling day.
Their other demands also included extension of polling time by four hours, security for observers and voters, access of press to all the polling stations, action against those discouraging voters from casting vote and increase in the number of university buses on the polling day.
DUCSU general secretary candidate from Chhatra Federation panel Umme Habiba Benozir said that they did not want to see farcical polls like the December 30 general election.
The vice-chancellor, however, urged the protesters to keep faith in the university administration.
A group of teachers on Sunday sought permission from the authorities to observe the elections.
The teachers — Geeti Ara Nasrin, Kamrul Hasan, Fahmidul Haq, Tanzimuddin Khan, Samina Luthfa, Rushad Faridi, Kazi Maruful Islam, Atanu Rabbani, Tahmina Khanam and Sazzad H Siddique — wrote to the chief returning officer seeking permission to visit the polling stations at halls.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed white panel teachers of the university at a press conference at Dhaka University Club alleged that none of the teachers not involved in ruling Awami League politics were engaged in the polls.
In the DUCSU polls, 21 candidates are vying 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 the positions of member.
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 run for general secretary.
For 13 positions in students’ union at 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.
According to chief returning officer SM Mahfuzur Rahman, 36 candidates including 3 assistance general secretaries won uncontested in the hall union polls.
According to hall sources, the authorities set up 25 booths at Jagannath Hall, 30 at Dr Muhammad Shahidullah Hall and Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall, 35 at Salimullah Muslim Hall, Surya Sen Hall and Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall, 22 at Zahurul Haq Hall and Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall, 50 at Ruqayyah Hall, 20 at Kabi Jasimuddin Hall and Amar Ekushey Hall, 16 at AF Rahman Hall, 24 at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall, 19 at Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall, 45 at Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall and 40 booths at Bijoy Ekattar Hall.
Voters can cast their vote from 8:00am to 2:00pm by showing valid university identity card. Voters who would be in the queues inside polling stations by the by 2:00pm would be allowed to cast their vote, said the chief returning officer.
Najmul Hossain, a third-year student of Persian language and literature and a resident of Sir AF Rahman Hall, said that he never thought that he could see DUCSU polls in his university life and was excited to cast his vote.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police has imposed a 24-hour restriction on public movement on the Dhaka University campus for the elections.
The restriction came into effect at 6:00pm Sunday and would continue till 6:00pm on Sunday.
No vehicle without valid pass would be allowed on the campus during the time, DMP commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said on Saturday, adding that teachers, students and staff of Dhaka University must carry their valid ID cards.
DUCSU polls did not take place in the past 28 years because of indifference of the successive university administrations and governments.
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