Dhaka University authorities yesterday imposed a limit on the number of journalists a media house would be allowed to assign to cover Monday’s Ducsu polls.
Only two journalists from each print media and four camera units from each electronic media will be allowed to cover the mega event, the administration said in a press release yesterday.
The decision, taken at a meeting of the provost committee chaired by Vice-chancellor Akhtaruzzaman, triggered widespread criticism among students and teachers of the university.
The press release was sent to the media without explaining why the decision was taken.
Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan, associate professor of international relations, sharply criticised the university authority for trying to reduce the number of journalists who would be covering the event.
The university must not impose such restrictions on the media, he said.
“Through giving such instructions, the university authority has taken a position similar to that of a political party. The decision does not correspond with the characteristics of the university.”
Talking to this newspaper, Prof Fahmidul Haq of mass communication and journalism said the university’s decisions was not a logical one as Ducsu election will be the most significant event for media on that day and the media will try to gather maximum information through deploying their reporters.
Nurul Haque Nur, vice-president contender from the quota reformists’ panel alleged that the authorities are trying to implement a “blue print”.
“After seeing the steps, the administration has taken so far, it felt like they are working to give advantage to a specific student body. The administration is advancing towards a preplanned election through restricting the mass media. They created the barrier to the journalists fearing they will publish stories on possible irregularities,” said Nur.
Liton Nandi, VP contender from the Pragatisheel Chhatra Oikya (Progressive Students Unity) said the authorities have been taking such steps since the beginning.
“The decision has sparked doubt among us whether the election would be fair or not,” he said.
Independent GS candidate ARM Asifur Rahman said controlling the mass media is part of the administration’s blue print.
“Such step would obstruct the electoral process and it proves that the university authorities are paying heed to a specific student body’s demand,” said Asifur.
“If the polls are held peacefully, then the student body they are favoring will lose by huge margin. That’s why they took such decision as the media is an important component of a fair election,” said Chhatra Dal’s general secretary nominee Anisur Rahman Khandaker Anik.
Talking to this correspondent, several general students also sharply reacted the DU authorities restrictions on media.
According to the restrictions, media won’t be able to live telecast from polling centres. Mobile phones and all other electronic devices cannot be used in polling centres.
The Ducsu election is going to be held after 28 years.
Around 43,000 students are set to cast their votes between 8:00am and 2:00pm on Monday.