The state government finally woke up from its slumber in the fake Tagore paintings exhibition case, with the police registering an FIR under non-bailable sections against three people, including former teacher-in-charge of the Government College of Art and Crafts (GCAC), Dipali Bhattacharya, and noted painter Jogen Chowdhury.
The case was handed over to the detective department (DD) on Wednesday, and Bhattacharya, who was the main driver of the exhibition (February 27-March 8, 2011), has been asked not to leave the country without permission. She was also suspended on Thursday, 13 days before her scheduled retirement.
A total of seven sections, mostly related to forgery and criminal conspiracy, were slapped against the three accused. All of these are non-bailable. The maximum punishment under one of the sections (467 of the IPC) is life imprisonment. However, till Thursday evening, the police had not arrested anyone.
"I'm being falsely implicated. Even if some documents are produced to prove my complicity, they would be forged," Jogen Chowdhury told Hindustan Times on Thursday. Chowdhury, who is known to be close to the chief minister, supplied one painting, which was part of his personal collection. Later, it turned out to be a fake.
The police action follows a general complaint by a group of young painters on October 16 at the New Market police station. The police turned it into an FIR on October 17.
The third accused is Jayanta Banerjee, a Dhanbad-based art collector, who supplied 19 of the 20 fake paintings that were on display on the GCAC premises.
The four young painters who lodged the complaint, Saptarshi Ghosh, Prithwis Daw, Prabal Sengupta and Tamal Krishna Goswami, also submitted a deputation to education minister Bratya Basu on September 25.
The deputation was signed by about 4,000 students from various colleges and universities in Kolkata, Burdwan, Nadia and Birbhum districts.
On October 10, 140 students of the GCAC submitted another deputation to Jayanta Choudhury, now teacher-in-charge of the GCAC, demanding punishment for the culprits. The exhibition was organised on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Tagore.