Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lady Justice statue removed from Supreme Court premises

  • Tapan Kanti Roy, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2017-05-26 01:04:18 BdST

bdnews24
Workers removing the Lady Justice statue from the Supreme Court premises in the wee hours of Friday. Photo: tanvir ahammed

The Lady Justice statue has been whisked off from the Supreme Court premises in the dead of night.

A few days before the Ramadan is to begin, workers were seen charging hammers on the base of the statue in the wee hours of Friday.

The statue was completely removed from its alter and taken away by a truck around 4am.

Sculptor Mrinal Haque, who erected the statue, was also inside the premises.

He told the media that the statue could be taken in front of the Annex Building of the court.

Journalists could not enter the premises as the gates were closed.

Mrinal Haque later came to the gate and spoke to the media around 1:20am.

Tears streaming down his face, the artist said he has been tasked with removing the statue.

Sculptor Mrinal Haque speaks to the media as his work, a Lady Justice statue, is being removed from the Supreme Court premises in the wee hours of Friday. Photo: tanvir ahammed

Sculptor Mrinal Haque speaks to the media as his work, a Lady Justice statue, is being removed from the Supreme Court premises in the wee hours of Friday. Photo: tanvir ahammed

He said he was under pressure, but did not name the people or authorities that had put pressure on him.

"Many have many kinds of power. I made it, now I have been forced to remove it," he said.

"Please forgive me. My hands are tied."

"I've come to ensure that the work is not ruined," said Mrinal.

He also said the Supreme Court authorities ordered him to take the statue away.

The work to remove the statue started around 9pm and it would take around two more hours to completely remove it, he said around 2am.

Visibly upset, the sculptor, asked for his reaction again by a reporter, threw back a question: "How would you feel if you lose a child?"

He said it was not a statue of a Greek goddess, but the figure of a Bengali woman wearing sari.

"Now maybe orders will be issued to remove the Aparajeyo Bangla, Raju Bhashkorjo and the horse carriage sculpture in front of Sheraton hotel," he said.

Onlookers gather in front of the Supreme Court's gate in the wee hours of Friday to watch the Lady Justice statue being removed from the court premises. Photo: tanvir ahammed

Onlookers gather in front of the Supreme Court's gate in the wee hours of Friday to watch the Lady Justice statue being removed from the court premises. Photo: tanvir ahammed

Protesters also came. Some of them started shaking the gate in a bid to force their way into the premises, but they failed.

Police were also deployed at the site.

More than 50 protesters from the Ganajagaran Mancha, mostly students, gathered in front of the court's gate when the news of removal of the statue spread.

"Sculpture of justice cannot be removed", "Tear down Razakars' dens, radicals' dens", "Let the weapons of brave Bangalees, Liberation War roar once again" were some of the slogans they raised.

Protesters raised slogans blocking the street in front of the Supreme Court against the removal of the Lady Justice statue from the court premises in the wee hours of Friday. Photo: tanvir ahammed

Protesters raised slogans blocking the street in front of the Supreme Court against the removal of the Lady Justice statue from the court premises in the wee hours of Friday. Photo: tanvir ahammed

Student organisations Chhatra Union and Samajtantrik Chhatra Front took out a procession from Dhaka University and joined the protesters later.

The protesters blocked the street's Supreme Court lane around 2:30am.

It was not immediately clear which agency was removing the statue.

No Supreme Court official was immediately available for comment while top police officials declined speaking on the matter.

An undated file photo shows the unharmed Lady Justice statue holding a sword and scales in her hands.

An undated file photo shows the unharmed Lady Justice statue holding a sword and scales in her hands.

Religious hardliners say the figure, a variation on the Greek goddess Themis but in a sari, goes against Islam.

According to them, the statue erected in December 2016, holding the familiar sword and scales of justice in her hands, amounts to idolatry.

Hifazat-e Islam, Olama League and several other Islamist organisations have been demanding the removal of the statue.

Hifazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi led Qawmi madrasa representatives at a Ganabhaban meeting, where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina acceded to their demand over the statue on Apr 11.

She said she, too, dislikes the statue.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeting Hifazat-e Islam chief Shah Ahmed Shafi at the Ganabhaban on Apr 11.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeting Hifazat-e Islam chief Shah Ahmed Shafi at the Ganabhaban on Apr 11.

In reaction to criticism over approving of the hardliners' demand, Hasina said she had asked Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha why the statue of a Greek goddess had been distorted by having it clad in a sari.

"Why shouldn't it be removed? Don't they see that it is no more Greek. It's half Greek, half Bengali. It's Greek-Bengali now. Don't they see it?" she asked.