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Friday, March 15, 2019

Hunger strike for fresh DUCSU polls

M M Jasim/Rayhanul Islam :
A total of 12 students of Dhaka University have been observing their hunger strike demanding resignation of Ruqayyah Hall provost, re-election, withdrawal of cases filed against them and ensuring security on the campus.
Six students started their fast-unto death on the base of the Razu Memorial Sculpture on Tuesday.
Another six students of Ruqayyah Hall-Saida Afrin Safi, Rafia Sultana, Shrabanna Shafique Dipti, Joyonti Reza, and Pramik Esha-began their hunger strike in front of the Ruqayyah Hall on Wednesday night.
They would continue their strike until their demands were met, they added.
They said that Ruqayyah Hall provost Zinat Huda was involved with the vote rigging and threatened the general students. She misused her power and did not take any action against those who assaulted some general students and DUCSU candidates including Nurul Haque Nur during the election. That is why she has no right to remain provost post, they said.
Saida Afrin Safi said, the DUCSU election was not held in a free and fair manner. The university administration must arrange fresh election.
"We will continue our strike until our demands are met."
"We would rather die but won't quit until our demands are met," Al Mahmud Taha, one of the participants of the hunger strike on the base of Razu Memorial Sculpture told The New Nation.    "Almost 72 hours have passed but no one (authorities) came to visit us. The question of meeting our demands seems a far cry," Taha said.
Meanwhile, Nurul Haque Nur, the VP-elect of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu), has expressed solidarity with the Ruqayyah Hall students who are on hunger strike.
"I also demand that the hall provost step down as she does not have any moral rights to retain her post," Nur said.
He also came down heavily on the DU authorities showing apathy to the girls students who have already spent a night at the hall's entrance. Nur voiced concerns over their security.
Meanwhile, Mostafizur Rahman, Vice President Candidate of Jatiyabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) panel also expressed unanimity with the girls' and pledged to take the movement forward with them. The students of Ruqayyah Hall who are on hunger strike also alleged that they were teased by ruling party's front Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists early Thursday.
"Around 200 activists of Chhatra League came at the hall gates on motorbikes around 2:00am," Shrobona Shafiq Dipty, a participant of the strike, told this correspondent. "They hurled comments on us. They jeered at us," said the independent hall candidate.
"We are feeling very insecure in the campus as those of us who were front liners during the agitation have been marked," said Promi Khisha, another participant of the strike.
On the other hand, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Professor Md Akhteruzzaman on Thursday refused to make any comment about the students who were observing hunger strike for fresh election.  The VC was leaving his office yesterday after meeting the Ducsu VP-elect Nurul Haque Nur when journalists surrounded him and asked his opinion on the students on hunger strike.
He also said that none of the 450 or so teachers and university authorities on watch during the Ducsu election complained about students being unable to cast votes or irregularities.
The VC also said "it is hurtful for all the authorities" who worked relentlessly on election day to see that a vested quarter is trying to create confusion over the matter.
He claimed that DUCSU election took place in a fair and festive manner. Provost of  Ruqayyah Hall Professor Zeenat Huda in a press conference in the DU Club on Thursday said she has no authority to arrange re-election to Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) for Ruqayyah Hall unit.
A day before the Ducsu election, university authorities provided six ballot boxes, three "trunks", 4,608 ballot papers for Ducsu election and 4,638 ballot papers for hall unit election, she said. "On the election day, the six ballot boxes were placed at the booths, while the three trunks and 2,608 ballot papers were kept in the room next to the booth which created a misunderstanding," the hall provost also said.
Later, all the candidates had examined the ballot papers which bore no seal, she added.
Replying to a query about the five students of Ruqayyah Hall who are on a hunger strike, the provost said she has asked the hall tutors to keep her inform about them.
No case has been filed by the hall authority against the demonstrating students, she also said.
In response to another query on allegation of the demonstrating female students being teased by BCL activists, she said the students are demonstrating outside the hall's premises.
"Our concern is to bring back the students to the hall from outside its premises," she said.