DUCSU polls: Festivity ends in boycott

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Progressive student alliance’s vice president candidate Liton Nandi speaks at sit-in after most of the participating panels boycott DUCSU polls on Monday. Photo: Dipu MalakarElection to Dhaka University Central Student Union (DUCSU) started with huge participation of voters, but ended with all the participating panels except the ruling party-backed Bangladesh Chhatra League boycotting the polls amid allegation of widespread rigging and irregularities.

The left alliance panel, the quota reform panel, the independent panel and the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal panel announced their decision of boycotting the polls at a press briefing at Madhu's Canteen on the campus in the afternoon.

Leftist student alliance’s vice president candidate Liton Nandi announced a strike and demanded reelection.

A group also gathered in front of the vice chancellor's residence and chanted slogan demanding re-election.

BCL central committee’s general secretary Golam Rabbani said those who boycotted the election were looking for a ‘safe exit’ as they were refused by the voters.

At a briefing at the Madhu's Canteen, Rabbani said the boycott was premeditated.

DU vice-chancellor Akhtaruzzaman denied allegations of rigging and termed the vote as peaceful.

Allegation of irregularities

Festivity turned into fiasco after stamped ballots were found at Kuwait Maitree Hall in the morning. The ballot papers were reportedly stamped on the symbols of the candidates of BCL.

Polling was suspended around 10:00am and acting provost of the hall Sabnam Jahan was relieved of her duties. Voting resumed at 11:10am.

Voting remained suspended in Ruqayyah Hall for hours after allegation of irregularities.

Vice president candidate from quota reformist panel Nurul Huq Nur was assaulted allegedly by some Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists at the hall.

Witnesses said some BCL activists attacked and beat up Nur when he went to the hall during protests by students over alleged irregularities in the election.

Slow queue hindered voting

The students came to express their franchaise in huge number before the start of voting at 8:00am but the queue was slowly moving.

A student of the law department named Shohag said he had to wait for five hours to cast his vote but many left by the time after waiting for long.

Shihab, a student of sociology department and resident of Surja Sen Hall, also said many voters left without casting their votes as the queue moved very slow.

Some students of Shahidullah Hall alleged that BCL leaders intentionally made the queue look long so that the voters leave feeling discouraged.

At around 12:30pm, BCL leaders were seen controlling the queue.

Hasnain Iqbal, a student of the hall, said, “I came at 8:30 but I am yet to cast my vote after four hours. There are more than 30 polling booths in the hall, but I don’t know why the queue is that slow.”

Asked, DU teacher Geeti Ara Nasrin, who along with some other teachers were observing the polls, said, “Voting process was unusually slow at some halls. Some even took 22 minutes to cast their votes. DU authorities drastically failed to ensure that everyone could cast their vote.”

Vice president candidate of quota reform movement panel Nurul Haq alleged that BCL leaders are intimidating the students, especially those who live outside the halls.

“BCL leaders are checking ID cards of voters and in Salimullah hall, and only allowing their known ones to vote,” Nur told Prothom Alo.

Asked, assistant general secretary candidate of BCL, Saddam Hossain denied the allegation of creating hindrance and said they helped the voters to cast their votes.

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