The student dormitories had been under the control of the ruling party’s student wing in the past, albeit officially. Through this election the occupancy has been institutionalised, said Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan, associate professor of Dhaka University’s international relations department.
“That won’t be good for any of us. Moral position is very important, especially for those of us who face students in the classroom every day.”
The morality has been killed through this election, he observed after visiting voting centres at several student dormitories during the election of Dhaka University Central Student's Union on Monday (11 March).
The DU teacher also observed that the most important thing was that the gathering in front of each polling booth was similar in character. “It was made just to refrain the non-resident voters from casting votes.”
The full text of the interview:
Prothom Alo: You visited many polling centres during the DUCSU polls. What did you see?
Tanzimuddin: We visited polling centres at various halls. When we heard of that cast ballot papers had been found in the Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall before the beginning of the polls, we immediately went there and found the report to be authentic. We saw some of the ballot papers. The votes were cast in favour of a particular panel.
We then talk to the house tutors. They said they had been hardworking for last three months for this, but you see the results. Some of the house tutors burst into tears while speaking. They said we are ashamed as teachers.
Prothom Alo: How were the ballot papers were brought there?
Tanzimuddin: There are many versions of how this came about. The main thing is the students of the hall found three sacks inside the prayer space beside the reading room. The ballots were cast for a particular panel.
We then moved to AF Rahman Hall where we found long queues. Some of the voters said they came here in the morning, but the lines remained at a standstill. Those who were BNCC [Bangladesh National Cadet Corps] members, the scouts who were not political party men, also told us that the lines were not changing and there was a crowd in front of the booths.
We then went to Mohsin hall where we observed the voting time. We saw a voter spent nearly 22 minutes for one ballot. The average voting time was 15 minutes there.
We saw many of the students roaming around the voting centres with mobile phones, which were actually banned. One of them was sitting in a chair just in front of a polling booth and directing the voters. When we asked about him, some of the university officials told us, he is unwell. That is why he has been given this chair to rest. But, a few minutes later, we noticed they moved him away.
The most important thing is the crowd in front of polling booths was similar in character. It was made just to prevent non-resident voters from casting votes.
We confirmed this matter while visiting Surja Sen Hall where we heard a student telling another, there are no votes for non-resident students.
The most interesting thing is the lines remained long till 2:00pm, but after the time, the lines suddenly vanished.
Prothom Alo: What did happen in Ruqayyah Hall?
Tanzimuddin: We could not understand what happended the matter clearly. But, following the Kuwait Maitree hall’s incident, students of the hall suspect a ballot box filled with fake votes. The students asked the provost of the hall to open and show the ballot box and that created a tension there. Actually, everything went out of control after the attack by members of the ruling party wing.
Already all panels except BCL have rejected the votes. Will it be acceptable?
The legitimacy, illegitimacy or credibility means nothing. Sometimes the mismanagement was intentional. But the voting which was held through this process, is so shameful for us as teachers. Legitimacy, illegitimacy or credibility of the voting does not matter if we teachers do not care about our own reputation.
Prothom Alo: What will this election bring for us?
Tanzimuddin: Actually, the student dormitories had been under the control of government student wing. It had no institutional basis in the past. Through this election the occupancy has been institutionalised. That won’t bring any good for any one of us. Moral position is very important for especially those of us who face students in the class room every day. The moral position has been killed through this election
By the way, we also observed that the ballot papers had no numbers. Usually, we see serial numbers on ballot papers, but the ballot papers neither had any number nor was there any statement about the specific number of printed ballots.