Ducsu Election 2019: Students wary of ‘fear tactics’
12:00 AM, March 10, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:11 AM, March 10, 2019

Students wary of ‘fear tactics’

Opposition candidates, students allege BCL men are threatening them; pro-govt student body denies

With the Ducsu election just a day away, many general students and rival candidates allege that they are being intimidated by some Chhatra League men.

For the last few days, general students are being “forced” to join BCL programmes at the hall guestrooms where top leaders of the pro-government student body threaten to oust the students from halls if they vote anyone outside the BCL, campus sources alleged.

The Daily Star has spoken to at least 10 such students.

“Senior brothers [BCL leaders] are telling us that they will not allow anyone to stay in the halls if anyone votes for any other candidates,” said a first-year student at Salimullah Muslim Hall yesterday.

Some students have also alleged that they were being asked to cast their votes openly or show their ballot papers to the BCL candidates' polling agents before dropping them in the ballot box.

“Otherwise, they will drive me out of my dormitory,” said a student at Kabi Jasimuddin Hall.

“It's not that the BCL men are threatening everyone. Those who are likely to vote for other candidates are receiving such threats,” said another.

Students and candidates outside the BCL are also worried about the election-day environment.

At least 10 BCL leaders and activists, who spoke separately with The Daily Star, spoke of a plan to scare general students away by staging “big showdowns” on and around the campus.

Chhatra League leaders dismissed the allegations.

“We have requested all voters to go to the polling centres to exercise their democratic rights as elections are taking place after so many years,” said BCL panel VP Candidate Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury.

Sonjit Chandra Das, president of BCL's election conducting committee, said they would provide every assistance to the university authorities in order to hold a free and fair election.

Meanwhile, Candidates held their campaigns for the last day yesterday for the Ducsu election that is taking place after 28 years.

The last committee of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu) was dissolved in 1998, and students have since waged several movements demanding an election.

In January last year, the High Court ordered the DU authorities to hold the election in six months, but that did not happen. Last month, the university set March 11 for polling.

About 43,000 students will cast their ballots to elect 25 Ducsu leaders from among 229 contenders. Another 512 candidates are vying for 13 posts in each of the 18 dormitories.

Students can vote only in the centres at their halls. Voting will open at 8:00am and will continue till 2:00pm without any break. The authorities allotted four minutes for each student to complete voting, which some students say is not enough. 

Pragatisheel Chhatra Oikya VP candidate Liton Nandi said there are 38 positions on the ballot papers.

“We want the voting deadline extended until 6:00pm so that all students can cast their votes,” he added.

Zahaurul Haq Hall Provost Delwar Hossain said they would set up adequate booths so that a student gets at least 4 minutes to make his decision.

Every voting centre will be under CCTV surveillance, but quota reformist panel VP candidate Nurul Haque Nur is still skeptical.

“The administration said there would be CCTV cameras…. The whole incident of the attack on me and my fellows during quota reform protests were filmed by different electronic media, but they [DU] did not take any action against the attackers,” he said.

NO OUTSIDER FOR 24 HOURS

No outsiders will be allowed to enter the Dhaka University premises for 24hrs from 6:00pm today.

But DU students, teachers and employees as well as people having university passes will be out of the purview of the ban, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia at a press briefing at the Shahbagh Police Station yesterday.

Vehicles without a valid university pass or sticker will not be allowed either.

Adequate policemen will be deployed on the campus, and they will act on instructions of the university authorities, he added.

Rickshaws from outside will be stopped at the entry points, but some rickshaws will be available for commuting inside the campus.

The university authorities have also imposed restrictions on the number of media personnel in DU during the election. No more than four camera units from each TV channel and maximum two reporters and one cameraperson will be allowed from each print media house.

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