The 43,000-plus students of Dhaka University have begun voting to elect representatives to the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu) after 28 years.
Voting began at the polling centres in 18 halls at 8:00 am on Monday and will end at 2:00 pm.
Students were seen in long queues outside polling centres at 7:00 am.
Several hundred students were lined up outside the Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall and Salimullah Muslim Hall at 7:00 am. Members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League were seen going from hall to hall and urging students to vote.
Surja Sen Hall Provost ASM Maksud Kamal said that any students who had lined up to vote by 2:00 pm would be able to cast their ballots after the deadline if necessary.
He expressed his hope the election would be fair and free of dispute.
The last polls for the organisation, which has played a pivotal role in the nation’s politics, were held in 1990.
Several attempts were made to hold the polls, but none came to fruition.
# Some 43,255 students have been registered as voters with 16,312 attached to female halls. Ruqayyah Hall has most voters – 4,608.
# A total of 229 candidates are contesting for 25 posts in the central union and 509 are contesting for 13 in each of the hall unions (234 posts in total).
# The number of candidates for the top post – vice-president (VP) – is 21. Besides them, 14 are running for the general secretary (GS) and 13 for the assistant general secretary (AGS).
# Apart from the candidates from 12 panels, nine are contesting for VP and two for GS posts as independently.
The organisations that have put up candidates for all the posts include the Awami League’s affiliate Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), JCD, a platform of leftist organisations, and Bangladesh Council to Protect General Students’ Rights, which came to limelight through protests for reforms to quota system in government jobs.
The candidates from these organisations include -
BCL’s Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shobhon (VP), Golam Rabbani (GS) and Saddam Hossain (AGS);
JCD’s Mostafizur Rahman (VP), Anisur Rahman Khandaker Anik (GS) and Khorshed Alam (AGS);
Leftist student panel’s Liton Nandi (VP), Faysal Mahmud Sumon (GS) and Sadequl Islam Sadique (AGS);
General student rights council’s Nurul Haque Nur (VP), Muhammad Rashed Khan (GS) and Faruk Hasan (AGS).
All the student organisations aside from the BCL have raised allegations of favouritism against the authorities amidst campaign that ended Sunday morning.
The candidates of all the panels other than the BCL one submitted a memorandum with different demands to Vice-Chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman, who is going to be the ex-officio president of the Ducsu, in the afternoon.
HOW TO VOTE
>> Students must line up to vote with their ID cards
>> Mobile phones must be switched off
>> Students must present their ID cards at security archways and metal detectors
>> They must also present their ID cards to the teachers on duty at their assigned tables
>> They must sign their names on the voter list before they receive the ballot papers
>> Voters will receive two separate ballot papers – another for the Hall Council and one for Ducsu
>> The Hall Council ballot papers are one page long, but the Ducsu ballot papers are three pages long because of the high number of candidates
>> They must then retrieve punched identification papers from the teachers
>> They can cast their ballots in an orderly manner once a voting booth is free
>> They must sign the ballot paper with an X using the ballpoint pens provided in the booth
>> The ballot papers cannot be folded
>> Voters must put their ballots for the Ducsu and Hall Council in the separate ballot boxes provided
>> They must then leave the polling centres using the assigned gates
>> Students with visual disabilities will be able to use special booths and ask for support
They objected to sending the ballot boxes to the centres on the eve of voting and expressed fear of intimidation as the halls of residence have been designated as polling stations.
They also spoke of their concern over a lack of time for voting and means to transport non-residential students, bdnews24.com reports.
Professor Abdul Basir, a returning officer, said the ballot boxes will be opened and shown to the candidates before being sealed off in the morning.
Police put up barricades at the entrances to the campus to bar all other than voters, teachers, officials, and journalists.
The restrictions will be in place until 6:00pm on Monday, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia had said.
Proctor Golam Rabbani said the authorities were prepared to ensure fairness of the vote.
Police will be deployed to assist the administration in ensuring security at four places on the campus, he added.
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