Amid continued agitations for fresh elections to Ducsu and hall unions, the authorities yesterday fixed March 23 for the first executive meeting of newly elected student representatives of the Dhaka University.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the DU provost committee, held at Abdul Matin Chowdhury Virtual Classroom of the university, said Bijoy Ekattor Hall Provost AJM Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan.
Talking to The Daily Star last night, he said the meeting was attended by the provosts of 18 halls with DU VC Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman in the chair.
Five panels, including that of new Ducsu Vice President and quota reformist Nurul Haque Nur, have boycotted the March 11 elections to Dhaka University Central Students Union (Ducsu) bringing allegations of irregularities and vote rigging.
As the protests continued yesterday, students demanding re-election were not able to talk to the VC despite observing a five-hour sit-in in front of the vice chancellor's office.
They postponed the day's protest expressing indignation against the university VC around 5:00pm.
“It's a shame for the university that we have been staying here for five hours and students have submitted evidence of irregularities but the authorities do not have the courage to talk to us,” said Aroni Shemonti Khan, a Ducsu VP candidate from Swatantra Jote panel.
“As the office hour is until 5:00pm, we are suspending today's programme,” she added.
The next course of action would be announced soon after a meeting among members of all five panels that boycotted the Ducsu and hall union elections.
Muhammad Rashed Khan, also joint convener of quota movement platform Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, said the attitude of the authorities had frustrated the students.
“The voting rights of students in Ducsu elections held after 28 years were been snatched. The administration was directly involved in the fraudulence and has become morally so weak that it does not have the courage to come before us,” said Rashed, who was a general secretary candidate for Ducsu.
Earlier in the day, the protesting students boycotting their classes and examinations brought out a procession from Raju Sculpture around noon and paraded through the campus.
Activists and followers of the five panels -- Pragatishil Chhatra Oikya, Chhatra Federation, Swatantra Jote, Swadhikar Swatantra Parishad and Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad -- then staged the sit-in.
The protesters were chanting slogans demanding cancellation of the Ducsu election results, re-elections, resignation of the VC, withdrawal of cases against the students and punishment of those involved in alleged attacks on the election day.
Earlier in the morning, the students who had observed hunger strikes at Raju Sculpture and Ruqayyah Hall, held a meeting with the VC at his office around 11:00am.
They also submitted a written complaint along with the evidence of irregularities in the Ducsu elections.
One of the students, Tauhid Tanzim, said VC Akhtaruzzaman had told them the irregularities that allegedly occurred during the recently held Ducsu election were “normal compared to the previous Ducsu elections that were marred by anomalies and violence including incidents of killing”.
Sohel Mahmud, Rafia Tamanna and Rabiul Islam were also present at the meeting representing the hunger strikers.
They said the assurance from the VC of proper investigation into their allegations over Ducsu polls did not satisfy them as he was repeatedly giving examples of irregularities in the previous elections.
“We requested him [the VC] to withdraw all false cases against the students but he seemed reluctant to hear this,” said Moinuddin, a student who attended the meeting.
He said the university authorities should clearly explain why they had taken so much time to count the votes and delayed announcing the polls results.
“We want the papers where students put their signatures after casting vote as we have no faith in this administration,” Moin added.
CONFUSION OVER NUR'S STANCE
On March 16, all the elected student representatives met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Gono Bhaban.
Speaking there, Nur sought the premier's all-out cooperation in proper functioning of Ducsu for the welfare of students but the next day he called a sit-in programme for Monday (yesterday), creating controversy and confusion.
Liton Nandi, a VP contender from the leftist panel Pragatishil Chhatra Oikya, criticised Nur and said the Gono Bhaban speech of the quota movement leader was completely contradictory to his earlier statement.
“Since the election day, Nur had been demanding re-election. But in his speech at the Gono Bhaban, he said there were a few mistakes in the election this time and demanded the prime minister's help to avert recurrence of those in the next polls,” Liton told the press on Sunday.
Muhammad Rashed Khan, who contested for general secretary form quota reformists' platform, said Nur would decided on taking over as VP after discussing with other panel members and taking opinion of other agitating platforms.
Nur could not be contacted and he did not attend yesterday's protest.
Replying to a query, Rashed told The Daily Star, “Nur did not come as he has to take care of his sister who fell sick”.
Liton Nandi was also absent and it was due to sickness, according to Rajib Raj, DU general secretary of Chhatra Union.
ARM Asifur Rahman, general secretary candidate from Swadhikar Swatantra Parishad, said it is Nur's personal matter whether he would take charge or not.
Talking to this paper, Liton echoed the same view.
The 28-year wait for Ducsu election ended in boycott by all major panels, except for that of the pro-government organisation Chhatra League, amid allegations of irregularities.
On the election day, students of Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall recovered a stash of ballots, marked in favour of BCL panel for hall union polls, from beside a reading room of the dormitory.
Students of another female dormitory, Ruqayyah Hall, recovered unmarked ballot papers for Ducsu and hall union polls in two trunks from hall union room.
Both the incidents led to suspension of voting for about three hours at the halls as students protested “marking ballot papers at Maitree Hall before the polling began and an attempted electoral fraud at Ruqayyah Hall”.