Officials said a statue of Lady Justice installed at the Bangladesh’s Supreme Court in Dhaka in 2016 was removed on Friday after radical Islamists demanded its destruction.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told local media that the sculpture had been removed on the recommendation of senior jurists to avert an “untoward situation.”
“It may be relocated to a museum nearby the Supreme Court,” he said.
Hard-line Islamists said that the statue, a blindfolded woman in a sari holding scales and a sword in her hands, is an idol, which is prohibited in Islam.
Since its installation in December 2016, thousands have turned out at demonstrations to demand its removal or destruction as well as that of similar artworks across the country.
Television footage on Friday showed sculptor Mrinal Haque overseeing a group of workers hammering at the base of the statue in the middle of the night.
“I made it, now I have been forced to remove it. “I’ve come to ensure that the sculpture is not damaged during removal,” Haque said.
The statue represents the Roman goddess Iustitia and the Greek goddess Themis.
Bangladesh has a secular constitution based on British common law, but radical Islamic groups have long campaigned for the introduction of strict Islamic law, or sharia.
More than 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s 160 million inhabitants identify as Muslim.
Activists of left-leaning student organisations clashed with police as the lawmen prevented a protest march towards the Supreme Court premises to demand the reinstallation of the justice statue.
Police fired tear gas and water canon to disperse the demonstration of more than 100 activists on Dhaka Four people were arrested as they were trying to break through the security barricade at the court premises, officer Maruf Sarder said.
Samajtantrik Chhatra Front (Socialist Student Front), a left-wing student organisation, has announced protest at all educational institutions across Bangladesh for Saturday.