Elections to both the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) will now be held on February 1 instead of January 30.
The Election Commission took the decision at an emergency meeting on Saturday.
“We’ve talked to the Education Minister (Dr Dipu Moni). She informed us that there’ll be no problem if the SSC examination is deferred. So, we’ve taken the decision (to shift the voting to February 1),” Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda told reporters after the meeting at Nirbachan Bhaban.
He said the SSC and equivalent examinations will now begin on February 3 instead of February 1.
Amid widespread criticisms and movement by a group of Dhaka University students, the Commission’s started the meeting at 4pm with the CEC in the chair.
On December 22 last, the CEC announced the election schedule for the polls fixing January 30 as the voting date.
Different quarters, including the Hindu community, demanded the deferment of the elections to the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) slated for January 30 that coincide with Saraswati Puja.
Even major mayoral candidates also urged the EC to reschedule the election so that the Hindu community can smoothly celebrate the Saraswati Puja, one of their major religious festivals.
Dhaka University students went on a fast unto death on Thursday to press for the demand.
They, however, broke the hunger strike on Saturday night soon after the announcement of the polls deferment.
They ended their strike sipping juice and water offered by DU Vice-chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman.
Speaking on the occasion, the DU VC thanked the EC for its decision, saying good senses have finally prevailed on them.
Earlier, police foiled a march of the students towards the Nirbachan Bhaban on Wednesday.
The protesting students had announced the march programme from a road blockade at Shahbagh soon after the High Court on Tuesday turned down a writ petition seeking deferment of the January-30 elections.
Thirty-one organisations of minority communities on Saturday declared that they would go on a weeklong countrywide protest from Monday to press home the demand.
The organisations, including Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad, announced the programme at a press conference at Paltan in the city.
Jatiya Oikyafront convener and veteran Bangladeshi legislator Dr Kamal Hossain on Thursday said holding the city polls on the day of Saraswati Puja is an unjust act. “The government has committed an unjust act by fixing the election date on January 30 as the Saraswati Puja will be held on that day. Such things didn’t happen in the past,” he had said.
Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad general secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta warned that they would resist the elections on January 30.
Besides, an appeal was filed on Thursday with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court challenging the High Court order.
The 2nd phase of three-day Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims after Hajj, is set to end on the banks of the Turag River in Tongi on Sunday through Akheri Munajat (final prayers).
Maulana Mohammad Jamshed of India’s Delhi is scheduled to conduct the final prayers between 11am and 11:30 noon, said Maulana Syed Wasiful Islam.
The 55th edition of the Biswa Ijtema began on Friday with "a'mbayan" (general sermons) after Fazr prayers with the participation of the followers of Indian Islamic preacher Maulana Muhammad Saad Al Kandhalvi.
Devotees from home and abroad thronged the banks of the Turag River to take part in the religious event to seek divine blessings of the Almighty Allah.
On the 2nd day on Saturday, Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Mohammad Mursalin conducted sermon after Fazr prayers that were translated in Bangla by Mufti Azimuddin.
Meanwhile, five devotees have so far died at the Ijtema venue during the 2nd phase of Biswa Ijtema.
Md Anwar Hossain, commissioner of Gazipur Metropolitan Police, said the plying buses will remain closed on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway from Gazipur Chowrasta intersection to Mohakhali in the capital from 4am for smooth movement of the devotees.
Buses from northern districts will remain halted at Konabari in Gazipur while all link roads towards Tongi will be closed during the Akheri Munajat, he added.
The 1st phase of three-day Biswa Ijtema ended on January 12 where followers of Maulana Zubair Hassan, the imam of Kakrail mosque, took part.
Tabligh Jamaat has been organising the congregation at the venue since 1967.
Stating that the country’s people now have no freedom of expression, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday alleged that the government is working to either eliminate or salience those who express dissenting views.
“We feel sorrow as we see our virtuous people being sent to jail only for raising voice, though they are not directly involved in politics. Those who think good and try to bring the truth to the spotlight through their write-ups are also being harassed and repressed the same way,” he said.
The BNP leader came up with the remarks while speaking at a discussion held at the Jatiya Press Club commemorating noted political scientist and national professor Talukder Maniruzzaman.
Citing an example of efforts to silence the dissents, he said a warrant for the arrest of the Daily Prothom Alo editor, Matiur Rahman, and nine others was issued by a court in a case filed over the death of Naimul Abrar Rahat, a student of Dhaka Residential Model College.
“What’s the offence of Matiur Rahman? He used to write occasionally and his newspaper published facts. Only for that, he has been implicated in a case filed in connection with the death (of a student) due to negligence. He was made the prime accused among the other journalists of Prothom Alo,” Fakhrul said.
The same way, he said, Daily Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman was kept in jail for a long time and the newspaper was shut down. “Efforts are on for silencing or eliminating the voices of dissents.”
The BNP leader said the people of the state that was established by freedom fighters now have no rights while the common people have totally become helpless.
He said the spirit of the Liberation War have been destroyed as the ruling party is consciously turning Bangladesh into a failed state.
Amid such a situation, Fakhrul said people must raise their voice and put up a resistance against ‘misrule’. “Talkuder Moniruzzaman had taught us to continue the fight. “We’ll surely turn victorious as the people of this country achieved victory through struggles in the past.”
Speaking at the programme, former caretaker government adviser Akbar Ali Khan said Talkuder Moniruzzaman was a prefect ideal teacher in the country. “He was always involved in research work, instead of running for becoming Vice-Chancellor and proctor of the University.”
He said Moniruzzaman who became the national professor was dedicated to teaching.
Akbar Ali said the education system in the country will develop and get rich further if teachers follow the ideals of the national professor who died on December 29 last year.
President Abdul Hamid on Saturday expressed hope that all members of the armed forces will continue their relentless efforts to uphold their pride through discipline, skills, patriotism and dutifulness.
" Deep trust in leadership, mutual belief, respect, professional skills and discipline as prerequisites for the development of any force, It is my firm belief that members of armed forces will continue their relentless effort to uphold their pride staying to the leadership through hard exercise, discipline, professional skills, dutifulness and patriotism," he said.
The President was addressing the reunion of National Defence College ( NDC) of Bangladesh held at Mirpur Cantonment.
Terming the armed forces as the symbol of pride, he said members of armed forces are playing a laudable role in nation building, facing the natural disasters and supporting the civil administration apart from maintaining the country's independence and sovereignty.
Referring to the implementation of Armed forces goal -2030 for the modernisation of the armed forces by the government, he said the plan will make the armed forces more modern, skilled and dynamic.
In the beginning of his speech, the President also recalled with profound respect the architect of country’s independence Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman and also paid his deep homage to the martyrs and valiant sons of the soil who made supreme sacrifices in the Liberation War.
He expressed his hope that all units of the forces will organise special programme marking the birth centenary celebration of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman and the Golden Jubilee celebration of independence.
"2020 and 2021 are very two important years in our national life.The birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of our independence will be celebrated in a befitting manner in 2020 and 2021 respectively," he said.
Ministers, secretaries, senior civil and military officials, former commandants of NDC, faculties and alumnus of the different courses were present during the programme.
Commandant of NDC Lieutenant General Sheikh MamunKhaled delivered welcome speech while secretaries conterned to the President were also present during the programme.
BNP will celebrate the 84th birth anniversary of its founder Ziaur Rahman on Sunday.
Born on January 19, 1936 at Bagbari in Bogura, Ziaur Rahman founded BNP in 1978 and became the country’s seventh President.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi announced various programmes to mark the day at a press briefing at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office on Saturday.
As part of the programmes, BNP senior leaders together with party leaders and activists will place wreaths at Zia’s grave around 10am on Sunday.
Besides, party flag will be hosted atop all BNP offices across the country.
Doctors Association of Bangladesh (Dab) will arrange a free health camp at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office around 11am.
BNP will arrange a discussion at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh in the afternoon.
BNP’s associate bodies and the party’s district, city, upazila and thana units will celebrate the birth anniversary with various programmes.
Meanwhile, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir issued a message on the occasion paying deep homage to Zia.
He recalled the BNP founder’s contributions to the country’s deployment and restoration of ‘multiparty democracy’.
Fakhrul also prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul of Zia.