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Visva-Bharati Seeks CISF Cover, to Build New Museums After Nobel Theft Shame

The university authorities have now decided to build two new state-of-the-art museums to house Tagore’s rare and priceless paintings, which are presently stored in a strong room and run the risk of damage.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:January 9, 2018, 3:07 PM IST
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Visva-Bharati Seeks CISF Cover, to Build New Museums After Nobel Theft Shame
Several of Tagore's precious artifacts were stolen from Uttaran Complex in Santiniketan, including the Nobel Prize. (Image courtesy: Visva Bharati website)

Kolkata: Once bitten, twice shy! The saying could never stand for truer for Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan, which is mulling several measures to preserve the Nobel Laureate’s creations. The university museum had earlier lost Tagore’s precious Nobel Prize after burglars broke into its safety vaults.

The university authorities have now decided to build two new state-of-the-art museums to house Tagore’s rare and priceless paintings, which are presently stored in a strong room and run the risk of damage.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, authorities have asked the Centre to provide CISF security cover for both the existing and the proposed museums.

The decisions were taken keeping in mind the heist at the university where thieves escaped with valuables, including Tagore’s Nobel medallion, a case that remains unsolved even after 14 years.

Speaking to News18, Visva Bharati V-C Swapan Kumar Datta said, “There are numerous paintings of Tagore those needs to be displayed at a special museum for public viewing. Presently, these unseen paintings are kept in a strong room and there is a possibility that they could be damaged. Therefore, we have decided to set up two museums near Kala Bhavana and Rabindra Bhavana.”

Kala Bhavana is a well-known institution of education and research in visual arts that was established by Tagore in 1919, while Rabindra Bhavana is an exclusive museum of historical archives on Tagore’s life. Both are integral parts of the university.

Datta added, “We have already received an approval from the Ministry of Culture and are awaiting a response from the Ministry of Human Resource and Development. Plots to setup the museums have also been finalized. The project would cost around Rs 20 crores.”

With authorities still concerned over the Nobel Prize theft, the vice-chancellor admitted that security would be a major challenge.

“We have, hence, requested the central government to sanction CISF security arrangements to guard the museums. They are the best in business and we are looking forward to the approval.”

In October 2017, Calcutta High Court slammed the CBI for making no headway in Tagore's Nobel medallion theft case which took place on 25 March, 2004. Besides the medallion, 47 other memorabilia, including Tagore’s gold watch, ornaments and ivory artifacts, were found stolen from the university’s Uttarayan complex.

Earlier in 2016, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee requested the Centre to hand over the case to the state CID, which was subsequently turned down by the CBI.

Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1931 as the first Asian recipient of the coveted award.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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