Removal of the statue personifying justice from the Supreme Court premises shows how the ruling Awami League has turned its back on secularism, eminent citizens have observed.
They believe that the AL, known to be the leading proponent of secularism in the country, made the decision
after careful weighing of the situation ahead of national election.
‘The government wants to ride on the popularity wave to win the next national election,’ said Dhaka University history professor Muntassir Mamoon.
He says the government understands well that Islamist radicals enjoy more popularity than the secularists in the country and their support is needed to ensure success in the next national election.
‘This is a simple math,’ adds Muntassir.
Radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam has been demanding removal of the statue of a lady holding a scale symbolising justice ever since it was set up in December 2016.
Amid Hefazat protests, prime minister Sheikh Hasina was reported to have said that she did not like the idea of placing the statue at a place that could be viewed from the field where Muslims gather for attending prayers during Eids.
‘Taking a position on such a ground becomes destined for riding on the popularity wave in a country where most of the people are Muslims,’ continues Muntassir.
The prime minister had also said that she would request the chief justice to consider relocating the statue to some other place.
Language Movement veteran Kamal Lohani said the SC had to remove the statue in the dark of night perhaps at instructions from the prime minister.
‘It’s a shame. It brings shame on Bangladesh,’ said Kamal Lohani.
In other words, says Kamal, the statue’s removal means promoting extremism in the country.
‘The government is leading the country to a dark age. The people should unite against the move without any delay,’ Kamal added.
Another DU teacher Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq said those in power always benefit from feuds among people, so they always try to keep people engaged in feuds.
Secularism is still trying to get a foothold in society because of the political parties trying to keep people divided over the matter of religion.
Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee president Shahriar Kabir observes that the SC should not have ordered the statue’s removal under any circumstances.
‘Getting the order issued by the SC will encourage the Hefazat even more to press for their demand of establishing the rule of Shariah in the country,’ fears Shahriar.
Citing radicalisation of textbook curriculum under pressure from Hefazat earlier this year, Shahriar thinks the Islamist radicals will feel their presence in the country stronger than ever before.
Ganajagaran Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarkar in press release said the abuse of religion by the government was scandalising both the politics and the religion.
Different left-leaning political parties also termed the removal of the statue the AL-led government’s surrender to the pressure of communal force Hefazat.
They called on the progressive and non-communal political forces to be untied against the compromise of the government and to compel them to reinstate the statue where it was.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed and Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Khalequzzaman in a joint statement said the government’s compromise with Hefazat would have serious consequences.
They said that government surrendered to the Islamist force and removal of statue from the apex court premises was an example.
The government made the compromise with Heafzat in order to keep their power safe and ensure re-election in the upcoming polls, they said.
The compromise would call on dire consequences for the country, they warned.
Oikya NAP president Pankaj Bhattachrya, Sammilita Samajik Andolan acting president Ziauddin Tareq Ali and Pahari Chhatra Parishad in separate statements demanded reinstallation of the statue on the SC premises.
CPB, SPB and Oikya NAP leaders called on all to launch a united movement against removal of the statue as well as fundamentalists.
They expressed their support to those protesting against the removal of the statue and demanded that those arrested in this connection be released soon.
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