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Bengali intelligentsia decries Nobel theft

M Chhaya in Kolkata | March 25, 2004 17:57 IST

The theft of Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel Prize from his home in the university town of Shantiniketan has spawned a tumultuous reaction from the Bengali intelligentsia and admirers of the litterateur.

Poets, scholars, filmmakers, politicians and literature aficionados Thursday expressed profound shock and dismay at the incident and hoped that the stolen articles would be recovered and their sanctity restored.

"What do I say? Things like this are happening nowadays. This is a very serious incident," said filmmaker Mrinal Sen.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, an avid Tagore fan, was angry. "We will arrest the culprits and recover the Nobel Prize at any cost," he said. Bhattacharya described the theft as 'a horrible incident'.

Around 11 am on Thursday, security staff of 'Uttarayan', Tagore's home that had several of his items of personal use and the coveted Prize citation, discovered that a window of the building was broken.

Then they discovered that the robbers had made away with a gold wristwatch, gold medals, some ornaments belonging to Tagore's wife Mrinalini Devi and father Devendranath and some rare paintings, besides the Nobel Prize that the poet had won in 1913.

They called in police and the news spread like wild fire. 

The entrance to 'Uttarayan' was blocked and visitors to Rabindra Bhawan, a museum of Tagore memorabilia inside the building, were kept away.

After initial investigations, Inspector General of Police Chayan Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata: "The Nobel Prize of Rabindranath Tagore has been stolen."

The building's security guards told police that they discovered the theft on Thursday morning, but Mukherjee said they were yet to conclude that the robbery took place Wednesday night.

"This is because the university was closed on Wednesday. So, the theft could have taken place that day or on Tuesday night," he said.

"This is a national disaster," said Sankho Ghosh, a renowned contemporary Bengali poet. "So far as I know, security is tight in Rabindra Bhawan. I wonder how this could take place."

Sen hoped that the authorities would take appropriate steps to find the stolen articles. "A thing like this shouldn't have happened."

Tagore founded the Visva Bharati University, an idyllic educational and cultural centre, with the Nobel Prize money in 1921 at Shantiniketan, some 200 km northwest of Kolkata.

He lived in 'Uttarayan', situated inside the university campus, until his death in 1941.

"This is a national shame. We are appalled," said Visva Bharati vice-chancellor Sujit Basu. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the chancellor of the university. 

"There has been a steady deterioration in the quality of students and the atmosphere in Visva Bharati becaue of several incidents that happened in the recent past. But, no one perhaps envisaged such a disaster," said Chhaya Mukherjee, a former student of the university.

Scores of angry people in Shantiniketan gathered near the university to voice their 'disgust' at the theft.

"This is our shame. We could not keep his (Tagore's) memorabilia safe. We hope police finds them without delay," said Monimala Sinha, one of those gathered in front of the university gate.


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Number of User Comments: 6




Sub: A horrible mischief

It seems that we Bengalees are not taking this accident too seriously. Think of the theft of Mona Lisa from Paris! Rabindranath's creations, his memories ...


Posted by Subhadeep Mitra





Sub: horrible

who so ever has stole the nobel prize should be brought back to justice and shot in public!!!! This would deter other people of even ...


Posted by dr akshaye banerjee





Sub: Why Bengalis only ?

Please make the correction in your title of the article. There is nothing bengali about Rabindranath Tagore. It is a shame to India as a ...


Posted by kalpana





Sub: SHAME

It is simply a shame for the Bengalis.I request the entire mass to condemn the crime and make an all out effort to retrieve the ...


Posted by Debashis Chakraborty





Sub: Theft at Shantiniketan.

I am appalled and endlessly disgusted at the theft of Tagore's memorabilia, including the Nobel Prize. Obviously, the thieves took advantage of the fact that ...


Posted by tushar mallik.




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