Former Dhaka University (DU) student Walid Ashraf has ended his 333-hour-long hunger strike after the vice chancellor promised to hold the election to the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) “as soon as possible.”
He broke the hunger-strike by drinking water given to him by VC Prof Akhtaruzzaman around 12:45pm yesterday.
“I know the DUCSU polls have been delayed for 27 years, but we will do our very best to ensure that necessary steps are taken to organize the election as soon as possible,” Prof Akhtaruzzaman told Walid.
According to the Dhaka University Order 1973, the senate of the university shall consist of five representatives of the students to be nominated by the University Central Students Union. Students' representation in senate has not been ensured since the last DUCSU election was held on June 6, 1990.
Dhaka University Teachers' Association President Prof ASM Maksud Kamal and Proctor Prof Golam Rabbani were also present on the occasion.
Walid said: “I am calling off my strike upon the assurance of the vice chancellor. We will take position at the same place (Smriti Chironton) if the demand is not met.”
Walid’s parents also arrived at the Smriti Chironton premises after some time and took their son along with them on a taxi.
Students demanding DUCSU polls also held their prescheduled discussion among teachers, students, professionals and regular citizens at the same place in the afternoon.
DU student Masud Opu, who was present at the discussion, gave a Facebook status about the discussion, saying Walid as well as the other protesting students were yet to be fully convinced as the vice chancellor failed to come up with any specific date for DUCSU polls.
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“We asked him repeatedly for a tentative date, but he evaded the point and left the place hastily after Walid broke the hunger strike,” Masud Opu told the Dhaka Tribune.
Meanwhile, DU unit of Bangladesh Students Union said they would hold an open dialogue on DUCSU polls in front of the Aparajeyo Bangla sculpture on the campus at 11am on December 13.
Walid, who completed his master’s degree under the evening program of the university’s Institute of Social Welfare and Research, began the hunger strike on November 25, demanding that the authorities concerned hold the DUCSU election before December 16.
Setting a tent at the Smriti Chironton premises near the Vice Chancellor’s residence, he stayed at the place for days and nights and vowed to fast unto death.
He fell seriously ill twice and was taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital last week. But he continued his hunger strike and returned to the place of his sit-in immediately after he was released from the hospital on both occasions.
He had been intravenously administered saline last Tuesday, as both his blood pressure and blood sugar levels fell drastically.
Walid's resolute stand gradually began to win support among the conscious section of society.
A number of students and teachers of DU, including Prof Gitiara Nasreen and Prof Ahmed Kamal, expressed solidarity with Walid; so has many student organizations – except for Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, student wing of the BNP.
Walid’s supporters also include Prof Kazi Shakhawat Hossain and Prof Md Maniruzzaman Khandaker of Jagannath University and Rajshahi 2 MP Fazle Hasan Badsha, who is also the general secretary of Workers’ Party of Bangladesh.