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March towards EC: Cops stop DU protesters at Shahbagh

  • Published at 02:02 pm January 15th, 2020
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Students of Dhaka University protest demanding rescheduling date for Dhaka city polls on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The DNCC and DSCC elections are scheduled to be held on January 30

Around one thousand students from Dhaka University (DU) have blocked the TSC intersection, demanding that Dhaka city polls be rescheduled.  

Addressing a protest rally on Wednesday afternoon, spokesperson of the protest Utpal Biswas condemned the remarks made by Election Commission Senior Secretary Md Alamgir about holding polls on the day of Saraswati puja.

 Utpal, vice president of Jagannath hall union and also general secretary of Chhatra League’s hall unit, said: “We always celebrate Swaraswati puja in a non-communal manner with those who belong to other religions.

“Every student is in favour of rescheduling the polls.”
Students of Dhaka university barricade Dhaka's Shahbag intersection demanding rescheduling date for Dhaka city polls on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneTerming election as another festival of Bangladesh, he said: “Puja and polls should not be held on the same day. We demand immediate rescheduling of Dhaka city polls.”

As per their scheduled program, the students also tried to march towards Election Commission’s office in Agargaon, but were barred by police near the National Museum in Shahbagh.

On Tuesday, the High Court rejected a petition filed seeking a rescheduling of Dhaka south and north city corporation elections slated for January 30. 

The order sparked protests several hours later at Shahbagh, leaving thousands of citizens trapped in massive gridlocks on the connecting roads.

The protesting students also gave an 18-hour ultimatum to the Election Commission to reschedule the polls. 

After the commission announced on December 22 last year that polls to DSCC and DNCC would be held on January 30, 2020, the members of the Hindu community voiced its opposition to the decision immediately as they were set to celebrate Saraswati Puja on January 29-30.

Matters became more complicated with the school holiday calendar, sanctioned by the government, marking January 29 for the Hindu religious festival.

Many Hindu religious groups, including the Puja Udjapon Parishad and Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC), had urged the Election Commission to move the election day to facilitate the community in celebrating the festival.

Students of Dhaka University bring out a procession demanding rescheduling date for Dhaka city polls on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneLaw abiding EC

After the High Court order on Tuesday, Election Commission Secretariat’s Senior Secretary Md Alamgir said the EC would follow the court’s directive.

“We had fixed the election day in line with the government calendar; and with the court’s decision announced, there is no legal bar [for now] in holding the DNCC and DSCC elections on January 30,” he said.

He also told reporters: “The Puja and the elections can be organized at the same time amid festivities. There will be no conflict.”

Urging the Hindu community leaders to respect the judgment, Alamgir said: “Everyone will have to follow the court’s order.”