The removal of the statue from the front plaza of Bangladesh's Supreme Court triggered violent clashes between police and secular groups.

The sculpture had been in place for less than six months when authorities removed it early Friday under pressure from religious groups, who said it was based on the Greek goddess of justice.
The sculpture had been in place for less than six months when authorities removed it early Friday under pressure from religious groups, who said it was based on the Greek goddess of justice.

Authorities in Bangladesh reinstalled a Lady Justice statue near the country's Supreme Court, two days after its removal following complaints by religious groups.

The sculpture of a blindfolded, sari-clad woman holding scales had been in place for less than six months when authorities removed it early on Friday under pressure from religious groups, who said it was based on the Greek goddess of justice.

Its removal from the front plaza of Bangladesh's top court triggered violent clashes between police and secular groups.

The sculpture's creator Mrinal Haque, who had accused authorities of bowing to conservatives, said he was asked to reinstall the statue at a different location on the court grounds.

"We have just placed the sculpture in front of the Annex Building of the Supreme Court," Haque said on Sunday.

"I wasn't given any clarification, but was only ordered to relocate it," he said, adding the new location was at the back of the court where hardly anyone could see it.

Opponents of the statue gathered outside the courthouse Sunday to protest its return.

Several people were arrested by police, drawing hundreds of protesters to Dhaka's main mosque to demand their release.

"Police arrested nine of our peaceful activists. If they are not released immediately, we will call for a stronger countrywide movement," said Hasibul Islam, spokesman for the student-based party Islami Shasantantra Chhatra Andolan.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who leads the secular Awami League party, initially kept her distance from the affair.

But she broke her silence last month to describe the statue as "ridiculous" after inviting top conservative leaders to her residence.

Analysts say Hasina's stand was intended to woo conservative rural voters, before a general election expected next year.

Bangladesh has seen increasing tensions between conservatives and secularists in recent years.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies