Interpol inquires about missing Vishnu statues in Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Dec 24 (UNI) Interpol contacted the Bangladesh police today to inquire about the two missing terracotta statues of Hindu god Vishnu.

AIG (Interpol) Bangladesh desk, Anwar Kamal, said the Interpol HQ in France came to know about the statues being stolen on way to Paris from newspaper reports and contacted them.

Mr Kamal said they have collected photos of the missing statues and other relevant information which will be sent to the Interpol HQ tomorrow to help recover them.

Director General of National Museum Samar Chandra Pal filed a case with Airport Police station, alleging that some unidentified thieves stole the statues from Zia International Port early Saturday.

Police sources said he mentioned in his FIR that 13 crates containing 145 artifacts were handed over to the Air France authorities after completing customs formalities and the two statues were stolen from the custody of the Air France.

Police detained 10 people for interrogation yesterday and today.

The airport sources said intelligence agencies collected CCTV video footages from the airport in a bid to identify the people involved in stealing the artifacts.

Education and Cultural Affairs Adviser Dr Ayub Quadri said he takes the responsibility for the two rare terracotta statues being lost on their way to Paris.

''I don't know how far my personal failure is there but as an Adviser of the Cultural Affairs Ministry, I'll have to take the responsibility for the statues being lost,'' he said responding to reporters' queries at his ministry.

The Adviser said he personally feels that the remaining artifacts should not be sent to Guimet Museum for exhibition until the heist of the two statues is resolved.

However, he said an appropriate decision needs to be taken in this regard, considering the international agreement and relations with France.

Earlier, 42 artifacts in 10 boxes were sent to Paris for the exhibition. The second consignment of 147 artifacts is being sent after the Supreme Court cleared the legal roadblocks.

The government set up an inquiry committee to submit a report by Wednesday after investigation.

Yesterday, the French Embassy said they feel the disappearance of a crate containing two small statues is ''highly suspicious and could also be the result of a conspiracy by a very small nexus of people to embarass France and Bangladesh.'' The Embassy, in a release, said a crate containing two small statues belonging to the National Museum was stolen from the service area of Zia International Airport on Saturday between 0330 hrs and 0700 hrs, hours before being loaded on a flight.

The release said the inquiries were going on and the possibility of a mere theft by petty criminals cannot be discounted.

It said loose procedures geared towards garment exports have led to such valuable crates being left unattended on the tarmac of the airport, in an area where neither the lending nor the borrowing institutions have any control.

Indeed, the release said, if the consignment had left on time, and without the very professional attitude of the Bangladeshi courier, the disappearance would have been noted only in Paris, with the corresponding accusations been directed against the French Republic by a small but vocal group of people.


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