Indian Museum Robbed for Rare Statues

Priceless bronze statues taken when thieves apparently were able to overcome manual access control


NEW DELHI, India, Sep 26 -- AT LEAST 18 priceless bronze statues of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira belonging to the Pala period were stolen from the Patna Museum. The theft came to light when the museum opened for the day on Tuesday. A police case has been registered.

Director of the Directorate of Museum Sahdeo Kumar told the Hindustan Times that one of the staff of the museum found the statues missing from the first floor gallery when he opened the gate. He also said the locks were tampered with.The employee informed the officials of the department and the local police. The officer in-charge of the Kotali police station Ajay Kumar said a rope had been recovered from the spot. The iron rod of one of the windows had been found damaged, he said.

Preliminary police investigation has revealed that the thieves entered the gallery after cutting the iron rod of one of the windows. The officer in-charge did not rule out the possibility of some of the employees of the museum being involved in the theft.The director said that after the museum closes for the week - it stays closed on Monday - the district administration takes over the security. During day time, the employees are deployed at the galleries, he said.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (Law and Order) Kumar Amar Singh said experts from the state forensic laboratory had been called to prepare a detailed list of the stolen items. Fingerprints have also been collected, he said.Minister for Culture Janardan Singh Sigriwal has ordered a probe into the theft of the statues that are worth crores of rupees in the international market. He said the probe would be conducted by the Commissioner of the Culture Department, Anjani Kumar Singh. "Singh has been asked to submit the report by Wednesday," he said.

The Hindustan Times is provided through HT Syndication, New Delhi.