DUCSU election 2019: Media restriction draws criticism
12:00 AM, March 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:05 AM, March 09, 2019

DUCSU Election 2019

Media control at the heart of freedom

Teachers, students smell rat in DU restriction on covering Ducsu polls, term it ominous

Dhaka University authorities yesterday imposed a limit on the number of journalists each media house would be allowed to assign to cover Monday's Ducsu polls.

Only two journalists from each print media and four camera units from each electronic media will be allowed to cover the election, the DU administration said in a press release.

Besides, live telecast, online streaming, mobile phones or other electronic devices will be prohibited in the polling centres.

Journalists will have to remain at specific points in the voting centres.  

The decisions, taken at a meeting of the provost committee chaired by Vice-chancellor Akhtaruzzaman, triggered widespread criticism among students and teachers.

The press release was sent to the media without explaining why the decision had been taken.

“The decision is certainly against the spirit of the university,” said Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan, associate professor of international relations.

The university should not have imposed such restrictions on the media, he told The Daily Star.

“Through giving such instructions, the university authority has taken a position similar to that of a political party.”

Prof Fahmidul Haq of mass communication and journalism termed the move illogical.

The Ducsu election will be the most significant event for the media on that day and they will try to gather as much information as possible through deploying as many reporters as possible, he said.

Nurul Haque Nur, vice-president nominee from the quota reformist panel, alleged that the authorities were trying to implement a “blue print” for the election.

“They created the barrier, fearing that the journalists would publish stories on possible irregularities.

“After seeing the steps the administration has taken so far, it feels like they are working on giving unfair advantage to a particular student body. The administration is advancing towards a preplanned election through restricting the mass media,” he said.

Liton Nandi, VP nominee from the Pragatisheel Chhatra Oikya (Progressive Students' Unity), said the decision made his camp wonder if the election would be fair. 

Independent GS candidate ARM Asifur Rahman said, “It proves that the university authorities are paying heed to a specific student body's demands.”

Chhatra Dal general secretary nominee Anisur Rahman Khandaker Anik said, “If the election is held peacefully, the student body the administration is favoring will lose by a huge margin. Since the media is an important component for a fair election they are restricting it.”

When asked about the reason behind the move, Chief Returning Officer Prof Mahfuzur Rahman did not provide any explanation and only said, "We have taken the decision unanimously."

He added that he would tell the authorities that the reporters had demanded that more journalists should be allowed to cover the polls, which is going to be held after 28 years.

Around 43,000 students are set to cast their votes between 8:00am and 2:00pm on Monday.

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