Slow lines mark 6-hr voting
Right before voting for the election to the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu), the authorities of Dhaka University's Bijoy Ekkator Hall around 8:00am opened empty ballot boxes in front of the candidates.
Half an hour later, mostly first and second year residential students queued up and began casting their votes.
The line grew longer, especially after the non-residential students arrived. Hall sources said the turnout was usual in the first hour.
Shipon Mia, a first year student of the linguistics dept, said he was satisfied with the authorities' initiative regarding voting in the election.
“I cast my vote 10 minutes after I joined the queue around 9:40am.”
Two hours later, around 10:00am, the first signs of discontent began to surface.
At 10:00am, the quota reformists' panel vice-president candidate Nurul Haq Nur claimed their panel's literary secretary candidate was alledgedly assaulted by BCL VP prospect Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon, also the BCL president, during their visit to the hall.
Contacted, the BCL president denied the allegation.
Meanwhile, the growing queue was proving to be a hindrance.
“I could not cast my vote despite waiting for over two hours,” said Shopnil, a student of accounting department. He further claimed to have seen some students standing in the hall corridor queue although they had already voted earlier.
Around 11:00am, BM Kawsar, the hall unit VP contester from Jatiya Chhatra Dal (JCD) told The Daily Star, “BCL activists created a long queue artificially to hinder the voting as per their plan so that general students, including voters of our panel, could not cast votes properly”.
Leftist Pragatisheel Oikya panel hall unit VP nominee Ragib Naeem said, “Some Chhatra League activists have been entering the queue randomly since 9:30am and I noticed this until 11:30am”.
Talking to the Daily Star, AJM Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan, a pro-AL teacher, claimed he had been monitoring the election since the morning to maintain order.
“Some students took extra-time to cast vote as they had no idea about Ducsu election [which took place] after 28 years,” he said in regards to why the queues were so long.
Shafiul, also the returning officer at the hall, controlled the students' “indiscipline” at the corridor around 11:15am and then voting regained momentum, hall sources said.
As the clock struck noon, this correspondent saw some BCL leaders and activists enter the polling station.
Leftist panel VP nominee Ragib told this paper that some of BCL men even entered the polling booths and threatened students to cast votes for them.
“As a candidate, teachers just allowed me [to enter]. On the other hand, almost all the teachers allowed both BCL activists and candidates to enter our polling station randomly, even after noticing their irregularities there.”
The allegation was denied by BCL hall unit VP nominee Shajibur Rahman Shajib.
Around 12:30pm, BCL activists and Chhatra Dal activists were seen distributing leaflets in the polling station gate, although they had been requested to give out pieces of paper with their name and affiliation on it.
At around 1:30pm, Hall Provost Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan ousted voters and candidates involved in “irregularities” in the polling station gate.
The voting ended at 2:00pm.
Talking to the Daily Star, the hall provost said 80 percent of the votes had been cast, adding the details would be announced later.