‘Don’t hold vote on Saraswati Puja’: Dhaka University students demand, block Shahbagh

  • Dhaka University Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-01-14 20:08:32 BdST

A group of Dhaka University students have threatened fresh protests after blocking the Shahbagh intersection for around two hours demanding elections to the city corporations in the capital not be held on Jan 30, the day of the Saraswati Puja.

The demonstrators took out a procession and then staged a sit-in on the busy intersection halting traffic around 5pm on Tuesday after the High Court dismissed a writ petition challenging the schedule fixed by the Election Commission.

Leaders of different hall student unions also joined the thousands of protesters.

“We don’t want to create public sufferings after the High Court announced its decision favouring Jan 30 as the voting day because the Puja and election cannot be held on the same day,” said Utpal Biswas, the vice-president of Jagannath Hall Students’ Union.

The hall union’s General Secretary Kajal Das said, “We think the Election Commission’s decision to hold vote on the day of the Puja is unconstitutional. We condemn it.”

While leaving Shahbagh around 6:45pm, Utpal set a deadline for reviewing the EC decision within 12pm on Wednesday.    

“We will lay siege to the Election Commission headquarters if our demand is not met within the time,” he said.

A group of Dhaka University students demonstrate blocking Shahbagh intersection on Tuesday demanding that the date for the city polls be changed for Saraswati Puja.

A group of Dhaka University students demonstrate blocking Shahbagh intersection on Tuesday demanding that the date for the city polls be changed for Saraswati Puja.

The goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning, Saraswati is most revered by Hindu students and artistes, among others.

Jagannath Hall, which houses Hindu students, organises Saraswati Puja along with other higher educational institutions across the country. It is under the Dhaka South City Corporation. Several institutions under Dhaka South and North city corporations organise Saraswati Puja and are also used as polling stations.

The Jagannath Hall students had earlier sent a letter to the returning officer. Joined by a group of teachers, Dhaka University Central Students’ Union or DUCSU had also organised demonstrations urging the EC to shift the vote.

One of the demonstrators told bdnews24.com: “Our country is secular, but the verdict is against it. In future, the Election Commission may take similar thoughtless decisions on holding vote on religious festivals. We can’t accept it.”     

The protesters shouted slogans – “No place for inequality in Bangabandhu’s Golden Bangla”, “We don’t accept vote on Puja day”.