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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Suspects quizzed over Nobel theft
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC reporter in Delhi

Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore is composer of the Indian and Bangladeshi national anthems
Police in India have questioned several people over the theft of the Nobel Prize medal won by the renowned poet and author, Rabindranath Tagore.

The medal for literature and some of Mr Tagore's personal possessions were taken from a museum in the state of West Bengal last month.

A reward has been offered to anyone giving information about the theft.

Rabindranath Tagore is the first and only Indian to win the literature prize in 1913 and is still revered today.

Bengali Shakespeare

A senior official from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the BBC that a reward of one million rupees (about $23,000) has been offered to anyone who can supply information about the identity of the thieves or the whereabouts of the stolen artefacts.

Sniffer dogs have been deployed to look for clues and a strict vigil is being kept at all entry and exit points in West Bengal.

A high level team led by a senior CBI official is going to the scene of the crime - the town of Shantiniketan - to assess the progress of the investigation.

The reward reflects the veneration Rabindranath Tagore still receives across India in general and in the state of West Bengal and Bangladesh in particular.

Rabindranath Tagore has often been labelled as Bengal's answer to Shakespeare.

He wrote poems and short stories, and was the composer of both the Indian and Bangladeshi national anthems.

His fans include the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, who is the chancellor of the Viswabharati University in Shantiniketan. The university was founded by Mr Tagore from his Nobel prize money.

Mr Vajpayee described the theft as a great loss to national treasure.

A wristwatch, several rare paintings and gold medals were among the items taken, though no manuscripts by the poet who lived from 1861 to 1941 are missing.

The theft has also been met with dismay in Bangladesh, even though some hardline Islamists have recently attacked what they see as Mr Tagore's largely secular legacy.


SEE ALSO:
Bengali poet's Nobel medal stolen
25 Mar 04  |  South Asia
Poetic bonanza for Indian publishers
03 Jan 02  |  South Asia
Bangladesh fears Tagore attacks
08 May 01  |  South Asia
Rare works stolen in India
22 Dec 99  |  South Asia


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