Police have arrested two local madrasa students and two of their teachers over the vandalism of an under-construction statue of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Kushtia.
After being encouraged by the sermons of Hefazat-e-Islam leader Maulana Mamunul Haque and Islami Andolan Bangladesh leader Syed Muhammad Faizul Karim, the students carried out the sabotage, said police.
Kushtia Superintendent of Police (SP) SM Tanvir Arafat Sunday said the students – Abu Bakar and Sabuj Islam Nahid – are directly involved in the vandalism.
"Arrested madrasa teachers Mohammad Al Amin and Md Yusuf Ali were aware of the plot to vandalise the Bangabandhu sculpture, and they helped the vandals escape," the SP told The Business Standard, adding that the teachers also misled police by giving false information.
Tanvir Arafat said the four individuals were arrested after closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) footage of the vandalism was analysed. He said security was beefed up in Kushtia after the incident, and the police are actively pursuing apprehending the other vandals.
Khulna Range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police Khandaker Mahid Uddin held a press conference at Kushtia SP office on Sunday morning to brief the media about the vandalism case investigation.
The DIG said Kushtia Municipality Secretary Kamal Uddin filed a case with Kushtia Model Police Station on Saturday night over the vandalism incident, and the four were arrested under the Special Powers Act, 1974.
On Friday night, Abu Bakar and Sabuj walked together to the statue on an intersection across from the madrasa. The duo climbed up using the construction ladder. Then they vandalised the statue with a hammer for around eight minutes and returned to the madrasa, police said in a media statement.
On Saturday morning, they told this to madrasa teachers Al Amin and Yusuf. The two students later fled to their respective homes as the teachers told them to do so, police said.
In the meantime, Awami League and its associate bodies, social and cultural organisations staged protests across the country on Sunday. The Kushtia district administration has formed a three-member probe committee which is due to submit its inquiry report within three days.
In another development on Sunday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters at the Secretariat that cases would be filed against those whose names would come out in the investigation.
Responding to a query about the security of sculptures placed in different parts of the country, the home minister said they took the issue seriously.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader also spelled stern action against the statue saboteurs.
He said the Kushtia vandalism incident was an unforgivable crime and the saboteurs must face the music. "No arrogant statements, remarks, and behaviour contrary to the constitution and law will be tolerated," he added.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud at a discussion at the Jatiya Press Club said, "Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the only person who has done the most for Islam in Bangladesh. The premier has built one lakh mosques, and the imams and muezzins are getting an allowance. Qawmi madrasa certificates have been recognized by the government."
"No one has done more for Islam in Bangladesh than her," said the minister.
He further said that those who are issuing a fatwa [ruling on a point of Islamic law] that sculptures are haram [forbidden] and unacceptable, then it would not be appropriate to keep their fathers' picture with them too.
"Do not issue fatwas as you wish. This country belongs to all communities, and everyone will live here with equal rights," he concluded.