Bangla: Culture Minister resigns over artifacts theft

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Dhaka, Dec 26: Education and Cultural Affairs advisor to Bangladesh's army-backed interim government, Dr Ayub Quadri today tendered his
Chief Advisor's Press Secretary Syed Fahim Monayem confirmed that he has resigned and a copy of his resignation letter was sent to the Chief advisor's office this afternoon. This is for the first time an Advisor tendered his resignation since the incumbent military backed caretaker government headed by chief advisor Dr Akhruddin Ahmed took over on January 12 this year.

Quadris' resignation came in the wake of strong controversies over the theft of two rare terracotta statues of Hindu god Vishnu from Zia international airport early Saturday. After the theft of two artifacts, Quadri told reporters that he is contemplating about his resignation. The government yesterday decided not to dispatch the second consignment of 145 artifacts to Gumet Museum in Paris for exhibition.

A special meeting, chaired by caretaker government's Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed at his office yesterday, took the decision after thoroughly reviewing the situation involving the dispatch of the artifacts to France.

After the meeting an official announcement said due to an unfortunate incident of theft of two artifacts from Zia International Airport early Saturday and because of complexity and taking into consideration the public sentiment that arose due to this incident the remaining artifacts would not be dispatched at this time.

The government today conveyed its decision to the French Embassy in Dhaka that it would not be possible to ''go ahead with holding the exhibition of the items as planned'' at the museum.

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

On last Saturday, 13 crates containing 147 artifacts were handed over to Air France authorities after completing customs formalities.

Police said soon after the crates were loaded in the aircraft, it was found that one crate containing two statues were missing. The missing crate was later found empty in a ditch near the runway of the airport.

The government formed a 5-member inquiry committee to investigate the theft of the statues and submit its findings by December 26.

Police have so far arrested 15 civil aviation and Biman employees for interrogation in connection with the theft. They were produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court today, which sent them to 5-days police remand for interrogation.


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