Authorities on Saturday night reinstalled the statue of justice at Annex Bhaban on the Supreme Court premises, barely 48 hours after its removal meeting an ultimatum issued by Hefazat-e-Islam.
The removal of statue drew widespread protest and criticism from progressive forces while Islamist groups, including Hefazat, on Friday thanked the prime minister for the removal of what they called an ‘idol.’
Witnesses said that the work of reinstalling the statue began about 9:00pm in presence of law enforcers.
‘We have reinstalled the sculpture at Annex Bhaban at the instruction of the Supreme Court authorities,‘ said Mrinal Haque, sculptor of the statue, who also oversaw the removal of the statue late Thursday night.
He was briefing journalists after completion of the reinstallation and said that the court authorities had told him that the sculpture would be reinstalled on the court premises.
Law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister Anisul Huq told New Age, ‘The Supreme Court is under the jurisdiction of the chief justice. He [chief justice] would be able to say in which consideration the reinstallation is taking place, if he reinstating the statute.’
‘I cannot make comments about reinstallation and I will not do that,’ he said.
When contacted, attorney general Mahbubey Alam said that he was not aware of any such move to reinstall the statue.
The statue was installed in front of the apex court in December 2016 which was visible from roads and now it is being reinstalled at Annex Bhaban from where it would hardly visible from outside.
Mrinal Haque was seen dictating some seven to eight seven people wielding the statue around 1:00am midnight past Saturday.
Shahbagh police officer-in-charge Abul Hasan was also seen at the spot where the sculptor was being reinstalled.
The authorities on Thursday late night removed the sculpture, few weeks after prime minister Sheikh Hasina had reportedly assured Qoumi madrassah-based Islamist organisation Hefazat leaders on April 11 of the removal of the sculpture, installed as the symbol of justice on December 18, 2016.
Different progressive and left leaning political parties and cultural organisations protested at the removal alleging that the government made an unholy alliance with Islamists ahead of the national elections and the removal of the statue of justice was against the spirit of the liberation war.
At least two dozen protesters were injured at Dhaka University as police on Friday fired teargas shells and sprayed hot water from water cannon at a procession that marched toward the Supreme Court demanding immediate reinstallation of the sculpture.
Four protestors — Bangladesh Chhatra Union general secretary Liton Nandi, its Dhaka College unit president Morshed Halim and activist Joy and Udichi Shilpigoshthi central committee member Arif Noor — were arrested from the spot.
A metropolitan magistrate court in the capital on Saturday afternoon sent four protestors to jail after the Shahbagh police produced them before the court in a case filed Friday night.
Shahbagh police officer-in-charge Abul Hasan said nine charges were brought against the four.
The nine charges include attempt to murder, obstructing police from discharging duty, rioting, holding unlawful assembly, injuring the police to cause obstructions to discharging duty and damaging public property.
Protests also continued for Saturday.
Chhatra Janatar Pratibad, a platform of different left and progressive students, and cultural organisations declared countrywide protests in all colleges and public universities for today demanding release of the four protesters and immediate reinstallation of the statue.
Law minister Anisul Huq on Saturday said the Supreme Court authorities ‘have shown respect to Islam and other religions’ by removing the statue of justice from its premises.
‘This idol does not reflect the original look of Themis. I think it was not the original idol. By removing the idol, the authorities have shown respect to Islam and other religions,’ said Anisul while speaking at a programme in capital on the day.
On Friday, from rallies and processions after the jumma prayers, Islamist groups and parties thanked the prime minister for the removal of what they called an ‘idol.’
They also demanded removal of all ‘idols erected in the name of sculpture’ at places across the country.
Military-controlled interim government removed five sculptures of Bauls, a monument commemorating baul tradition from in front of the then Zia International Airport in the face of pressure from a group of Islamists in October 2008.
The same month, a group of Ulama Anjuman-e Al-Bayinat activists vandalised Balaka sculpture in Motijheel area in the capital.
Source: New Age