Around fifty students of Dhaka University on Thursday afternoon began indefinite hunger strike demanding deferral of the elections to two Dhaka city corporations scheduled for January 30 which coincides with Saraswati Puja. They went for the strike at the base of anti-terrorism Raju Memorial sculpture of the university which began after a protest rally at the same place.
On Wednesday protesters blocked the capital’s Shahbagh crossing after police barred their march towards the Election Commission. Utpal Biswas, also vice-president of Jagannath hall Union and general secretary of Chhatra League’s hall unit also joined the strike said that it was a matter of sorrow that the Election Commission had set January 30 for holding two Dhaka city elections and that the commission did not pay heed to demands of different social and religious organisations to change the date.
“We will continue our strike till our demand is met,” said Utpal Bishwas. Another student, Kazal Das, general secretary of the same residential hall also reiterated the VP’s statement. He further said that students were protesting for several days but election commission still stuck to its previous position. He also vowed that they would continue the strike until their demand was met.
Utpal also condemned the remarks made by Election Commission secretary Md Alamgir about holding polls on the day of Saraswati Puja. Earlier in the day, members of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) formed a organised rally on the campus demanding the same. They gathered at Madhur Canteen on the university campus around 11am on Thursday.
Later, they brought out a rally which paraded important streets of the campus and ended at Raju memorial sculpture. Around hundred Chhatra Dal members, including Central Committee President Fazlur Rahman Khokon, General Secretary Iqbal Hossain Shyamol, among other central and university committee members, were present there.
Khokhon said: “The Election Commission has scheduled the Dhaka city polls on the day of the Saraswati Puja, which is completely unacceptable. The religious sentiment of the Hindu community has been hurt because of it. We demand rescheduling of the polls.” Meanwhile, urging the government to release Khaleda Zia from jail, he said: “Khaleda Zia is being held under false cases and tortured, while top terrors are released on bail.
“In this way, she is being driven to her death slowly.” Election Commission secretary M Alamgir on Wednesday said that the students are staging demonstration out of mis information, because Saraswati Puja will be celebrated on January 29 while the voting to the DSCC and DNCC will be held on January 30.
Emerging from a meeting at Nirbachan Bhaban, the commission secretary said that there was no way to change the voting date as SSC examination will start on February 1. He said that the High Court rejected a writ petition in this regard and Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad and Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad are yet to file any appeal against the HC order.
Earlier on Tuesday, the High Court turned down a writ petition seeking its directive to defer the elections to the two Dhaka city corporations. Following the HC order, the elections to Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation will be held as per its schedule on January 30.