The Supreme Court authorities were taking down the statue of the Greek Goddess of Justice Themis on the SC premises in the wee hours today.
Some five to seven workers were hammering at the base of the statue while four to five other people, including Mrinal Haque, the sculptor, were overseeing the work that began around 11:30pm yesterday.
There was a pick-up parked nearby. Journalists were not allowed inside the premises.
Contacted, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the chief justice (SK Sinha) had a meeting with the incumbent and former presidents and general secretaries of the Supreme Court Bar Association, including eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain. At the meeting, the CJ sought their opinion about removing the statue.
"They opined that it should be removed to avert any untoward situation," he told The Daily Star, adding that the statue might be relocated to a place near the Supreme Court Museum, which is also on the SC premises.
Mrinal Haque, who was standing on the other side of the main gate of the apex court, told The Daily Star, "I have nothing to say. When will we become humans? It is a matter of great sorrow. When will the people of the country be educated?
"I do not know anything. The statue is being removed following pressure from high-ups. I have come here because they would damage it if they took it down without me.
"We have conceded defeat. It's a slap on the face of the pro-liberation, cultural and freedom-loving people of the country. It seems Razakars, Al-Badrs are the winners."
Contacted, Maruf Hossain Sardar, deputy commissioner of DMP (Ramna division), said they were not aware of the removal of the statue.
Around 2:00am, some 100 youths, under the banner of Bikkhubdo Nagorik (aggrieved citizens), gathered near the SC premises and blocked the road. They were chanting slogans like -- "Joy Bangla, why surrender to Hefajat?"
Terming the statue "un-Islamic", Hefajat-e Islam, Awami Olama League and some other Islamist organisations demanded its immediate removal. On April 21, Islami Andolan Bangladesh demanded that the government remove the statue before Ramadan.
Earlier on April 11, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a meeting with the Alem and Ulema from Qawmi madrasas said she personally did like the statue on the SC premises either.
"Why would the statue of Greek Themis be set up in Bangladesh? The Greeks had a certain type of costume, but here a statue has been built and it is wearing a sari. It's a funny incident. I don't know why such an incident happened," she said that time.
The premier also said she would soon discuss the matter with the chief justice and urged the Alem-Ulema to have patience. "Keep faith in me, I'll do whatever necessary."
Later on April 17, Hasina told her cabinet colleagues that she had asked the CJ either to remove the statue or reinstall it at another place so that it cannot be seen from the National Eidgah.