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As it happened: Lady Justice brought down

  • Published at 12:49 am May 26th, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:29 pm May 26th, 2017
As it happened: Lady Justice brought down
4:40am: The truck disappears from view and all lights on the Supreme Court premises are turned off at once. Only a few of the protesters remain on the street. The policemen have already disappeared from the scene. 4:20am: The statue is laid down on the blue pickup truck, which starts moving towards the south side of the premises. 4:10am: Attorney General Mahbubey Alam tells Bangla Tribune that the statue of Lady Justice has been removed on instruction by the Chief Justice. 3:50am: The statue is completely removed from its spot and hoisted up. [caption id="attachment_65459" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]The Supreme Court Lady Justice statue being hoisted up after its removal Mahmud Hossain Opu The Supreme Court Lady Justice statue being hoisted up after its removal Mahmud Hossain Opu[/caption] 3:40am: Dhaka Tribune Photojournalist Mahmud Hossain Opu, who is in front of the Supreme Court, reports that protesters have announced a protest march at 11am that will begin from in front of Raju Bhashkorjo in Dhaka University and march towards the Supreme Court. [caption id="attachment_65456" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Protesters hold up a banner denouncing the removal of the Lady Justice statue Mahmud Hossain Opu Protesters hold up a banner denouncing the removal of the Lady Justice statue Mahmud Hossain Opu[/caption] 3:40am: Our Correspondent Manik Miazee reports that Islamist groups are joyfully greeting the removal of the statue. One Islami Oikya Jote supporter posted on Facebook saying: "Islami Oikya Jote Vice Chairman Mowlana Abul Hasnat Amini has thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for removing the idol from the Supreme Court premises. "He said, the honourable prime minister has kept the promise she made in front of Alims at Ganabhaban." It cannot be immediately verified if this is the party's official reaction. 3:00am: A manual crane has been erected over the statue. 2:31am: The protesters take position outside the gate and start chanting slogans. Armed policemen gather on the other side of the gate. 2:21am: A crowd of protesters reach the locked gate shouting slogans against the removal of the statue. 2:21am: Workers are seen cutting at the feet of the statue with an acetylene torch. 2:10am: Mrinal Haque comes to the gate again. He says it will take another two hours to remove the sculpture. He reasserts that he has not been told whether the sculpture will be placed anywhere else. "I have been told to remove it," he says. "This is a slap in the face of the progressive people in this country," he adds. 1:30am: Sculptor Mrinal Haque approaches the locked High Court gate to speak to journalists. He is visibly distraught. He refuses to say who issued the instructions to remove the statue, only saying: "I was told yesterday. You know, the people who are the authority here. Then there are people above them." [caption id="attachment_65445" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Lady Justice sculptor Mrinal Haque speaks to journalists through the gate of the High Court Mahmud Hossain Opu Lady Justice sculptor Mrinal Haque speaks to journalists through the gate of the High Court Mahmud Hossain Opu[/caption] "This is a Bangali woman, wearing a saree. There is nothing Greek about it. This is nothing but a symbol of justice," he says. Mrinal says he is here to oversee that the statue is not damaged during the removal. Asked by reporters, he says he does not know where it will be placed. "It may be placed outside the annex building," he adds, referring to an inner building of the court. The sculptor, creator of several notable works of art that adorn Dhaka's streets, says: "Now there will be orders to remove other sculptures. They will order Raju Bhashkorjo's, Oporajeyo Bangla's, and Bolaka's removal." 12:45am: Several policemen in uniform appear at the scene. 12:30am: Live footage on news channels show at least 10-12 people working around the statue. At least one of them appeared to be working with a hammer and chisel at the bottom of the statue. A blue pickup truck is also seen standing nearby. Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, was the first to raise objections against the artwork, claiming that the statue was an idol of a Greek goddess and did not belong in a Muslim nation. [caption id="attachment_65439" align="aligncenter" width="683"]lady justice removal high court Workers prepare to remove the statue of Lady Justice from in front of the Supreme Court Mahmud Hossain Opu[/caption] Hefazat, a Qawmi madrasa-based Islamist platform which aspires to have Shariah law enforced in the country, and several other radical groups including Awami Olama League and Islami Andolon Bangladesh have been campaigning against the sculpture, terming it anti-Islamic, since December last year. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also said she does not like the idol and would talk to the Chief Justice about its removal. The terrorist group Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladesh affiliate of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has also expressed its support for the demand.