Amid continuous students' protests demanding a fresh election to Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu), the university authorities yesterday rejected the allegations of vote rigging and irregularities in the polls held on March 11.
In a written statement, DU authorities claimed that a vested quarter was trying to gain political mileage by destabilising the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the country and the university.
Meanwhile, protesting students at Ruqayyah Hall padlocked the gates of all administrative rooms including the provost's office early on Saturday, demanding the resignation of hall provost Prof Zeenat Huda and re-election to their hall union.
The girls of Ruqayyah Hall had earlier given a 24-hour ultimatum to the authorities after withdrawing their strike on Thursday night.
“As the ultimatum ended last night, we padlocked the gates around 12am but no one has yet reached out to us. We will not allow any official activity in the hall until a new provost is appointed,” said Srobona Shafiq Dipty, one of the students who observed hunger strike.
She alleged that the hall provost and hall unit BCL leaders were involved in stashing ballot papers during the election, and Common Room and Cafeteria Secretary from Bangladesh Chhatra League panel Lipy Akhter transferred some extra ballots to the hall provost during vote casting.
“We have submitted written complaint about vote rigging, but administration is yet to take any initiative in this regard,” she added.
Denying the allegations of vote rigging, Lipi told The Daily Star that a vested quarter is spreading rumours to tarnish the image of Chhatra League.
“Quota [reformist] Nur became VP through this election because his followers voted, yet some leftists are now saying the election was rigged. It is obviously a baseless claim,” Lipi added.
Chhatra Union General Secretary, Liton Nandi said that they would declare a fresh protest programme on Monday after the long weekend.
However, in their statement DU authorities expressed concern about the incident that took place in Kuwait-Maitree Hall and said it is true that a bag filled with “marked” ballot papers was recovered from a room adjacent to polling booths. After being informed, the vice-chancellor (VC) ordered to postpone the voting process and asked the chief returning officer to go there.
The VC also appointed a new provost to the hall and formed a five-member probe body to investigate the incident. Chief returning officer managed to get new ballot papers printed for the concerned hall and resumed voting, said the statement.
It added that if there is any question of obscurity or laxity here, they will take exemplary measures against the perpetrators after getting the probe report.
Citing the issue of Ruqayyah Hall, authorities said, “It was said very confusingly that ballot papers were recovered from Ruqayyah hall. The papers were not kept in the ballot box; rather in the trunks sent by the chief returning officer. The ballot papers were not marked; they were intact and unused.”
As per rule, ballot papers are supplied to voters from fixed tables via responsible teachers. This is the best way to ensure the security of ballot papers.
Besides, confusion was created centring the number of ballot boxes. There were six ballot boxes [in which the ballot papers would be put] and three ballot trunks which were intact. Thus, the claim of there being nine ballot boxes, six of which were found and three were hidden – is futile and imaginary, said the statement.
Commenting on the university's statement, Ruqayyah Hall resident and protester Dipty said authorities had preserved ballot papers, aiming to rig votes. She claimed that is the reason they were not shown those ballots and were attacked by Chhatra League on election day.