Dhaka University students broke their hunger strike on the fourth day, Friday night, as the university authorities assured them of hearing their demand for re-elections to the Dhaka University Central Students Union and resignation of people engaged in conducting the March 11 elections.
On the fourth day of the hunger strike, the students broke their fast drinking water and milk at about 11.30pm.
Dhaka University Teachers’ Association president ASM Maksud Kamal told them, ‘If you want, the university authorities will sit with you on Monday. We will listen to the allegations and in future we will try to make the electoral process more transparent.’
Pro-vice-chancellor Muhammad Samad, proctor AKM Golam Rabbani and Dhaka University Central Student’s Union vice-president-elec Nurul Huq Nur, general secretary-elect Golam Rabbani and assistant general secretary-elected Md Saddam Hussain were also present.
Nurul said that in the consultation with his fellow campaigners he decided to visit Ganabhaban to meet prime minister Sheikh Hasina at 4:00pm today.
Until Friday evening, Dhaka University authorities seemed to overlook the students on hunger strike.
On Friday, three protesters — Shoeb Mahmud, Meem Arafat Manob and Al Mahmud Taha — fell sick when a group of agitating students brought out a ‘bhukha michil’ [hunger procession] from Raju Memorial sculpture to press home the same demands.
When their procession reached near Memory Eternal premises, Shoeb fell unconscious and was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital instantly. Few moments later, Meem also collapsed.
The VC Akhtaruzzaman and Proctor Golam Rabbani could not be reached over mobile phone for their comments.
A total of six students have been observing the hunger strike including Rabiul Islam who returned to the base of Raju Memorial Sculpture and resumed his strike after taking treatment at DMCH.
Five students began the strike on Tuesday as several allegations of irregularities in the DUCSU and hall union election surfaced.
Meanwhile, DUCSU vice-president elect Nurul Haque Nur visited the students and said he would reconsider taking over charges.
‘If you want to take over charges, you have to do so over our corpses,’ Rafia Tamanna, a protester, told Nur.
The students asked Nur not to meet prime minister at Ganabhaban on Saturday. The elected DUCSU representatives are scheduled to meet the PM at 4:00pm.
They also asked Akhter Hossen, the DUCSU social welfare secretary-elect not to go to Ganabhaban.
In his reply, Nur said he was positive about going to Ganabhaban as the premier was the highest executive person.
‘However, I will take my final decision after discussion with other students who boycotted the March 11 DUCSU and hall union polls,’ he said adding that he would not step forward bypassing the students protesting at the polls marred by ballot stuffing, booth jamming and irregularities by the DU administration.
Nurul also said that he had no intention to join Bangladesh Chhatra League.
‘Till my honours studies, I was actively involved in BCL activities. Later I distanced myself as some of its activities clashed with my ethics. I am now the joint convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Sangrakshan Parishad and I will love to continue working under the banner,’ he stated.
Meanwhile, two Ruqayyah Hall students were admitted to DMCH on Friday.
Earlier on Thursday night, students of the hall postponed their strikes for 24 hours after hall provost Zeenat Huda and proctor Golam Rabbani met them.
Vice-chancellor Akhtaruzzaman on Wednesday ruled out re-elections to Dhaka University Central Students’ Union while all but Chhatra League continued protests demanding re-polling.
Monday’s DUCSU elections, held after 28 years, ended in boycott by all major panels except for the Chhatra League over allegations of irregularities and vote rigging.
The protesters gave ultimatum to the authorities for three working days from Wednesday.
The university authorities found proof of vote rigging in the Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall. Several hundred ballot papers were found in a sack. All of those were in favour of Chhatra League candidates, said teachers and students.
The hall provost was removed from duty following the discovery. Allegation was also raised in the Ruqayyah hall where students discovered three ballot boxes outside the booth during the elections.