Vol. 5 Num 70 Thu. August 05, 2004  

The story of Tagore's lost belongings

A new team will take over the investigation of the unsolved theft of litterateur Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel prize from his home inside Visva Bharati University. Currently investigations are being carried out jointly by officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and West Bengal police. But in view of the little headway the probe has made, authorities have decided to replace the present CBI sleuths with a new team, government officials indicated here recently.

On March 25, security staff of Uttarayan, Tagore's home inside Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan town, discovered that at least 50 of his memorabilia, including the Nobel gold medal he won in 1913, were missing. Two gold bangles and a sari of the poet's wife Mrinalini Devi, a ring belonging to his father Devendranath, some ornaments, silver utensils, several rare paintings and articles made of ivory were also found missing. Several people were detained, many suspects questioned, criminal hideouts raided, antique dealers tapped and a rupees one million reward announced for information on the theft - but did not yield any result.

Investigators are unsure of the motive behind the theft but don't rule out the involvement of university staff. Investigations into the theft revealed new scandals at the university, including a racket that gave jobs to people with fake educational certificates. Dilip Sinha, the previous vice chancellor of the university, was arrested for passing off as genuine fake certificates of a teacher at the university. Sinha and the teacher, Mukti Deb, are now under arrest.

But the probe into the Nobel theft appears to have run into a wall. University authorities have asked the Sweden-based Nobel award's committee for a replica of the medal. The authorities have also decided to throw open the Uttarayan complex to visitors.

This complex was closed after the heist. It houses a museum of Tagore's memorabilia.