12:00 AM, October 17, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 17, 2008

Removal of sculptures sparks protests

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Staff Correspondent

Various political and socio-cultural organisations yesterday condemned the removal of the five sculptures of bauls (folk singers) in front of the Zia International Airport (ZIA).
They urged the people to launch movement against the fundamentalists who are posing threats to Bengali culture and heritage.
Meanwhile, Bimanbandar Golchattar Murti Protirodh Committee that forced the authorities concerned to remove the sculptures said the government has to begin the task of erecting a hajj minar by October 23 in place of the sculptures removed on Wednesday.
They also demanded removal of Mahbub Jamil, special assistant to the chief adviser, for taking initiative to erect the sculptures.
Committee Chairman Mufti Nur Hossain Nurani, also the chairman of Khatme Nabuwat Andolon, at a press conference at a city restaurant said if the government fails to meet their demands they would hold a grand rally at the north gate of the hajj camp on October 24.
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) were forced to remove the five sculptures in the face of protests of the Murti Protirodh Committee on Wednesday.
"We will not accept anything but a hajj minar at that place and its design must be finalised upon our consent," said Mufti Nur Hossain.
He said all khatibs across the country will bring out processions from mosques today demanding punishment of those who took the initiative to erect the sculptures in front of ZIA.
Sculptor Mrinal Haque said the task of erecting the sculptures began about three and a half months back.
Almost 50 percent work of the project had been finished at a cost of Tk 50 lakh, said Mrinal, who was supposed to sign an agreement with United Commercial Bank Ltd on Wednesday for getting funds.
A CAAB official said they removed the five sculptures of bauls holding ektara on instructions of the ministry concerned.
Ain O Salish Kendra in a statement expressed concern over the removal of the sculptures and said such incidents raise questions about the present government's commitment to protecting Bengali culture, upholding non-communal spirit and democratic values.
Workers Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon and its General Secretary Bimal Biswas in a joint statement also condemned the removal of the sculptures.
They said the present caretaker government has compromised with the fundamentalists on various issues but the people will thwart all attacks on the Bengali culture.
Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, Charan Sangskritik Kendra, Jaybangla Sangskritik Oikya Jote and Bangladesh Students' Union also condemned the incident.

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