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Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 14:44 GMT
Rare works stolen in India

By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

Indian police are investigating the theft of some rare paintings and manuscripts from Viswabharati University, a seat of learning set up by the renowned Bengali intellectual and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.

The university's vice-chancellor, Dilip Sinha, told the BBC that the theft was detected by his colleagues and that he had called in investigators from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Mr Sinha said the theft of more than a dozen paintings and nearly 20 rare manuscripts from the central library and the Kala Bhavan (Fine Arts faculty) of Viswabharati University was first detected last month.

He said he summoned an emergency meeting of the university's governing body and it was unanimously decided to hand over the investigation to the CBI, which started working on the case earlier this month.

Late on Tuesday, an eight member CBI team arrived in Santiniketan, where the university is located.

CBI officials have started questioning employees of the university.

Original works

Mr Sinha said the paintings lost included original masterpieces of Abanindranath Tagore, one of India's greatest painters and nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, one of the most renowned Bengali poets and a Nobel laureate in Literature.



The manuscripts were mostly original hand-written poems and letters of the poet.

The theft of antiques in West Bengal has increased over the years .

Some rare coins were stolen last year from the 200 year old Asiatic Society, while some thefts were also reported from the Asiatic Museum, both in Calcutta.

With several historic institutions and centres of learning in the state, West Bengal has become a target for antique smugglers.

Several such gangs are active here and in neighbouring Nepal, from where they smuggle the stolen antiques to the West and the Far East.

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