Dhaka: A statue called ‘Lady Justice’, sculpture set up as a symbol of justice, was removed today from Bangladesh’s Supreme Court complex, after an outcry from religious hardliners.
According to the hardliners, the statue, a variation on the Greek goddess Themis but in a saree, goes against Islam. The statue erected in December 2016, holding a sword and the scales of justice in her hands, amounts to idolatry. The statue is now kept in front of a nearby building wrapped with clothes. The authority’s havnt made clear as to under whose instructions the sculpture was removed.
The sculptor Mrinal Haq said that he was forced to remove it “under pressure”. He said he was present at the time of removal so that the sculpture was not ravaged and added that it was not a statue of the Greek goddess, but a Bengali woman.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters that the Supreme Court has taken steps to remove the sculpture. Students and cultural workers protested outside the locked gate of the Supreme Court during the removal of the sculpture. Various other organisations protested in Dhaka on Friday, calling it a ‘capitulation of ethics’ to fundamentalists.
In April, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the statue’s removal. In reaction to criticism over her approval, 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 saree.
“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 inquired.
The work to remove the statue started on Thursday night at around 9 pm, and took about three hours to completely dismantle it, authorities said.
More than 50 demonstrators from the rights group Ganajagaran Mancha, mostly students, gathered in front of the court to protest against the removal.
Some Islamic organisations threatened to go on strike demanding the removal after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised to remove the sculpture last month.
Police used teargas shells, water cannons and rubber bullets to disband the protesters as they tried to break through the barricades, said Samajtantrik Chhatra Front’s General Secretary Snehadri Chakroborty Rintu. Bangladesh Students Union General Secretary Liton Nondi was among five who were detained. At least 20 protestors have been injured.