Islamist group in Bangladesh seeks removal of Supreme Court’s Hindu Chief Justice
Dhaka: An Islamist group in Bangladesh has demanded the removal of Surendra Kumar Sinha, the Chief Justice of the country’s Supreme Court, from the post. The demand is not solitary as the group has also slammed the government’s funding for the celebration of Bengali New Year and Pohela Baishakh, terming it has ‘haram’.
Olema League, which claims to be an affiliate of ruling Awami League, during its human chain protest in the capital seeking a deduction in the government's funding, demanded the removal of Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, who is the first Hindu to hold the top post at the apex court in the Muslim-majority country. Justice Sinha is known for a number of landmark judgments including those on the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 5th and 13th amendments to the constitution.
The grouping has also asked the government to cut down funding for Pahela Baishakh celebrations and divert the money to Islamic festivals like Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi.
The demands have been met with stiff criticism from several secular groups on and social platforms who have now demanded an explanation from the ruling AL government over its relations with the Olema League. The demands are based on senior ruling party leaders being previously sighted joining their programmes.
The mass circulation 'Daily Star' in a front-page commentary wrote, "So then, is our government upholding a 'haram' culture as it is a public holiday? Are the 160 million Bengalis observing a ‘haram’ festival? What Olama League has been doing over the years is a crime."
"It (Olema League) can hurt religious sentiments of the Hindus or any other minority people as it has done this time just yesterday when it said 'a Hindu chief justice in a country where 98 per cent people are Muslims is hurting the sentiment of religious Muslims'.
Awami League, however, denied any links to the group.
"I am telling you, Awami League does not have any affiliate called Olema League. We have 11 affiliated or associate organisations and you would not find the so-called Olema League in that list," said Awami League spokesman and joint general secretary Mahbub-Ul-Alam Hanif .
He said that law enforcement agencies were asked to take required legal actions against the group for carrying out controversial activities using the Awami League banner.
Hanif also denied a media report that the outfit was allowed to use a room inside Awami League's central office, saying "they earlier hung a banner in our office but it was removed as soon as it came to our notice".
(With PTI inputs)