Polls to DU Hall Unions: They stand their ground

Despite pressure from BCL, 7 independent aspirants refuse to quit race

At least seven independent candidates stood their ground on contesting the polls to Dhaka University hall unions despite facing pressure from Chhatra League to withdraw their nominations.

The deadline for withdrawal of nominations expired at 1:00pm yesterday, but none of them gave in.

The BCL men beat them up, threatened them with dire consequences, held closed-door meetings with them and even talked with some of their parents to press them to quit the polls race.

The activists of the pro-Awami League student body did all these to ensure their victory in the March 11 elections and in some cases, to earn uncontested wins, said the independent contestants.

Mahbubur Rahman Sajid, independent candidate for cultural affairs secretary of Salimullah Muslim Hall Students' Union, said some BCL men assaulted him on Friday night for his reluctance to pull out of the election. 

The BCL men forced him to write an application to the hall proctor on withdrawing his candidature. As he informed the proctor about the incident, the latter tore apart the application and asked him to file a written complaint against the Chhatra League men, Mahbubur told The Daily Star.

Wishing anonymity, several students of the hall said a BCL faction had been putting pressure on Mahbubur to withdraw his candidature since he collected the nomination form last week.

Around 9:00am on Friday, some BCL men met Mahbubur on the Ekushey Book Fair premises and forcibly took him to room no-111 of SM hall.

They confined Mahbubur to the room and assaulted him. He was freed around 10:00am yesterday only after he assured the BCL activists of withdrawing his nomination.

Contacted, Zulias Cizar, the BCL's general secretary candidate at SM hall, said an incident occurred over Mahbubur's candidacy. “If any incident like what happened to Mahbubur occurs on March 11 [polling day], I will work for him.”

Farid Hasan, independent candidate for GS of SM hall students' union, alleged that he was roughed up by some Chhatra League men at the dormitory on Friday.

At least three independent candidates of Mohsin hall told The Daily Star that BCL President Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury on Friday night threatened them with dire consequences if they did not quit the polls race. 

Rezwanul had called the independent candidates to his dormitory room (332) and asked them to withdraw nominations by noon yesterday. Mohsin hall BCL President Sarker Zahir Raihan, General Secretary Mehedi Hasan Sunny and its VP and GS candidates Touhidul Haque Shishir and Mehedi Hasan Mizan were also present, said the independent contestants.

Despite repeated attempts, this correspondent could not reach Rezwanul for comments as he didn't pick up the phone.

Touhidul told this correspondent that they asked the independent candidates involved with BCL to withdraw their nominations.

At least five other independent candidates at as many dormitories told this newspaper that they were intimidated by Chhatra League men for contesting the election.

On Thursday night, a group of BCL activists at Zia hall asked an independent candidate to pull out of the race. They also allegedly threatened to drive him away from the dormitory if he did not comply.

An independent candidate at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman hall came under pressure from some BCL activists to quit the polls race.

Shahab Uddin, GS nominee from a joint panel of leftist students' platforms at Zahurul Haque hall, alleged that he was compelled to withdraw his nomination yesterday.

Talking to this newspaper, another independent GS candidate, also a Chhatra League activist, said several top leaders of the student body held a closed-door meeting with him at Zahurul Haque hall on Thursday, and asked him to pull out of the election. They also phoned his parents to press them on the matter.

According to section 9 (Ga) of the electoral code of conduct of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu), any candidate or any person on behalf of him cannot intimidate or use force on any other contender or voter and bar them from casting votes.

Anyone violating the code of conduct may face a fine of maximum Tk 10,000, cancellation of candidature, expulsion from the university or a punishment as per relevant laws of the university or the state, reads section 15 (Kha) of the code of conduct.  

Meanwhile, ARM Asifur Rahman, independent GS contender in the Ducsu polls, yesterday submitted a memorandum to the DU vice-chancellor, protesting putting pressure on independent candidates.

“As a regular student of the university, each student has the right to take part in the polls. But putting pressure on them or assaulting them over nominations is a clear violation of the code of conduct. They are being threatened so that they cannot form an alliance with any student organisation,” he added.

The final list of candidates for the Ducsu and hall union polls will be published today and the supplementary voter list will be made public on Tuesday.

A total of 18 DU halls will go to polls on March 11, which would be the first election at the university in 28 years. Each of the hall unions has 13 posts.

There are an estimated 43,000 voters at the DU.


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