As the election day for the Dhaka North and South city corporations is nearing, the demand for the deferral of the city polls is also getting louder. The Hindu community and Dhaka University students have been demanding rescheduling of the election date which coincides with the Saraswati puja, a major religious festival of the Hindus. However, the Election Commission (EC) seems to be in a fix as to what to do since the High Court has already rejected a writ petition seeking deferral of the January 30 elections.
We think the EC should have considered some basic facts before finalising the polls date in the first place. It would not be an overstatement to say that by fixing the polls date on the day of Saraswati puja, the EC has, in fact, failed to consider the Hindu community’s constitutional right which guarantees equal space for all religious groups.
Moreover, it is common knowledge that Saraswati puja is observed in almost all educational institutions across the country where worshippers gather to offer prayers and people from other religions also join the celebrations. For instance, one of the biggest Saraswati Puja celebrations in the city is held in Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University which is joined by people from across the town. Since polling centres will be set up at different schools, colleges and universities in Dhaka during the election, it will be near-impossible for the students to celebrate the festival in the city. It is surprising that the EC didn’t consider the fact.
What is more, there will definitely be restrictions put on vehicular and public movement on the election day. It will be difficult for worshippers to go to the puja mandaps as Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code will be imposed in and around the polling centres.
Considering all these factors, the EC should not be rigid on its stance. The Dhaka University students and the Hindu community have made their points quite clear, and we think their demand should be considered by the EC. Now that an appeal has been filed with the Supreme Court requesting the EC to fix a new date for holding the DCC elections, we hope to see a positive directive from the court that satisfies the general people’s demand.