The manner in which the Ducsu election was held is reprehensible. It was an arranged election by all means. Also, not holding the Ducsu election in the last 28 years was a heinous crime against our education system and the students of the university. The decision to hold an election to Ducsu on March 11 was, thus, a welcome initiative—an attempt to redress this crime—but a much bigger crime was committed in the name of holding this election.
Frankly, I would not even call this an election. I am sure the majority of the students of Dhaka University as well as the general people of the country hold the same view that it was a manufactured election. Through this farcical exercise, the image of this university was further tainted. As a former vice president (VP) of Ducsu, I feel ashamed. I don’t think I would ever feel comfortable to introduce myself as a former VP of this student body.
In this so-called election, various techniques were used for vote rigging in all the residential halls. And the shameless manner in which the rigging took place in some of the residential halls is unprecedented. There is ample evidence of manipulations. Thus the hopes and aspirations of the general students were trampled upon.
The students’ demands were ignored when they called for holding the election in the academic buildings. Dhaka University has a big campus. The election could be conducted in a big area where many more polling booths could be set up. But that was not done. The teachers assured the students that the election would be held in a free and fair manner, and that there was no need for polling agents, transparent ballot boxes, or phosphoric ink. And the students trusted them.
The people of this country always believed in teachers because they had set examples of high moral standards. When the Pakistani soldiers were about to shoot the protesting students of Rajshahi University in 1969, Dr Shamsujjoha, a professor of the university, had warned them: “You have to shoot me first before you shoot my students.” So he was shot dead by the military, which accelerated the mass movement against the Agartala conspiracy case.
Universities are places where students are supposed to get lessons of honesty and morality. In the past, there were many teachers who were ready to sacrifice their lives for the rights of the students. But in Monday’s election, we have witnessed a completely different picture in which teachers set an example of how the students can be robbed of their voting rights by arranging an engineered election. It was as if they were teaching the students on how many ways an election can be rigged. The moral bankruptcy of the teachers was evident. This election is a shame for the whole teachers’ community.
Although it was a long-standing demand of the students to hold this election, no amount of pressure from the student organisations could change the status quo until the High Court intervened. This election was held as per the High Court’s directive. Thus, I would urge the court to immediately form a judicial committee to investigate the allegations of a sham election. And within two weeks, the schedule for a fresh election should be declared in order to establish a dignified Ducsu.
During the Pakistani rule, when Ayub Khan had absolute control over the whole country, he was unable to take control of Dhaka University or the Ducsu. Why? Because the students had resisted and prevented all his moves to take control of the DU. I still believe the students of this university will come forward to establish their voting rights and save Dhaka University from the shackles of terror and subjugation of the powers that be. This will happen today or tomorrow. This is what history tells us.
Mujahidul Islam Selim is president of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and the first vice president of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union after the country’s independence. This is an excerpt of an interview taken by The Daily Star.