Students continue protests

DU Correspondent | Published: 10:35, Mar 14,2019 | Updated: 02:21, Mar 15,2019


Dhaka University students bring out a procession on the campus demanding re-election to DUCSU and hall unions. — Sony Ramany

The strike was declared postponed for 24 hours on Thursday by the female students when two of the four female hunger strikers in front of Ruqayyah Hall were admitted to DMCH, after falling sick. Meanwhile, six male students at the base of Raju Sculpture vowed to continue with their strike even after they were approached by provost and proctor at around 9:00pm on the same day, urging them to call off the strike.
Sheikh Moushumi, who was a candidate in the polls from Ruqayyah Hall called for postponement at around 10.15pm on behalf of the female students.
She, however, pointed out that they would again go for strike unless the authorities concerned met their demands for re-election to the central student union polls and resignation of the people engaged in conducting the polls.
Though initially Dhaka University authorities turned a deaf ear to both male and female hunger strikers, at 9:00pm yesterday, proctor Golam Rabbani, provost Zeeenat Huda, and the newly elected VP Nurul Haque Nur, GS Golam Rabbani and AGS Saddam Hossain approached the striking students requesting them to break the fast.
The groups of male students began their strike since Tuesday while the female students kick-started theirs on Wednesday.
About 72 hours into the strike high officials of the university showed up and though we have no plan to end the strike, according to the agitating male students.
The three-day ultimatum given by the panels of Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakshan Parishad, Pragatishil Chhatra Oikya, Swatantra Jote, Chhatra Federation and Swadhikar Swatantra Parishad on Tuesday for re-schedule of the polls would end Saturday, protesters said.
The six hunger strikers at the base of Raju Sculpture whose strike kick started on Tuesday afternoon said that they would not go back until their demands were met.
‘We would rather die but won’t quit until our demands were met,’ Al Mahmud Taha, one of the participants in the hunger strike, said.
‘Two consecutive days have passed but none from the authorities came to visit us,’ said Taha.
Meanwhile, four students of Dhaka University’s female dormitory Ruqayyah Hall were continuing their fast unto death for the second consecutive day on Thursday.
Sheikh Sayeda Afrin Shafi, Rafia Sultana, Shrabanna Shafique Dipti, Joyonti Reza, and Promi Khisha began the strike on Wednesday night at around 9:00pm er a 4-point demand, positioning themselves in front of their dormitory.
Among the striking female students Rafia Sultana and Promi Khisha were taken to DMCH after they fell sick yesterday evening.
Their demands include resignation of Ruqayyah Hall provost Zinat Huda, re-election of the hall union poll, withdrawal of false cases and ensuring security of demonstrators.
VC Akhtaruzzaman on Wednesday ruled out the demand of re-elections to the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union while all but Chhatra League continued protests pressing for the demand for re-election.
Among the strikers Sheikh Sayeda Afrin Shafi, who contested in the hall union for AGS post, fell sick on Thursday afternoon around 3:00pm and had to be sent to her seat inside the hall after receiving initial treatment from Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Nurul Haque Nur, newly elected vice-president of DUCSU and leaders of Jatiyotabadi Chhatra Dal have expressed solidarity with the Ruqayyah Hall’s female strikers at around 1:30 on Thursday.
Talking to the press, Nur of Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakshan Parishad also demanded that the hall provost must step down as she does not have any moral right to retain her post.
Nurul Haque also said that the university authorities should take action against who showed disrespect to the girls of DU and harassed them at late night.
Mostafizur Rahman, vice-president candidate from Chhatra Dal panel also expressed solidarity with the girls and pledged to take the movement forward.
Leaders and activists of ruling party’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League led by its general secretary, also newly elected general secretary of DUCSU, Golam Rabbani allegedly abused the female strikers verbally on early Thursday.
‘Around 200 activists of Chhatra League came to the hall gate on motorbikes around 2:00am. They hurled abusive comments on us and mocked at us,’ said Srobona Shafiq Dipti, one of the strikers and a candidate of central student union.
However, Chhatra League general secretary Golam Rabbani could not reach for comment.
The provost of the hall and president (ex-officio) of the hall union Zeenat Huda claimed that she did not know about harassment of her students and said: ‘I am not aware of such incident and none of the house tutors informed me about this,’ She made the remarks at a press conference at Dhaka University Teachers’ Club.
The Monday’s DUCSU election, held after 28 years, ended in a boycott by all major panels except for the BCL over allegations of irregularities and vote rigging.
Most participating panels exploded in protests even before the voting ended and demanded re-elections. They had also called a strike, which was later called off.
The university authorities found proof of vote rigging in Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall, where several hundred ballot papers were found in a sack. All the ballot papers were sealed in favour of the Chhatra League candidates, teachers and students said.
The hall provost was removed from duty following the discovery. Similar allegation was also raised regarding Ruqayyah hall, where students discovered three ballot boxes outside the booth during the elections.

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