An autographed print of a work by renowned painter Sayed Haider Raza, worth lakhs of rupees, has gone missing from the Kakaiya government primary school in Mandla district.
Raza, born in Narsinghpur district’s Babria, did his elementary schooling from the school, and this was where the Padma Vibhushan awardee drew his inspiration for the concept of ‘bindu’, an idea he would later use in his geometric abstract works during the 1980s.
In the winter of 2006, Raza visited the village and gifted the school with the print, an album and a book.
“Raza was emotionally attached to his teachers. Even at his studio in Paris, he put photographs of his teachers. In 2006, Raza had gifted a print of one of his bindu paintings, which must cost lakhs,” Raza’s friend Ashok Bajpai, who was with the painter when they visited the school, said.
After Raza’s death on July 23, the villagers realised that the print was missing from the school, only the book and the album were intact.
For close to two months, the villagers probed the matter themselves, but when their search left them no wiser, they decided to inform the police.
On Friday, they lodged a written complaint with Mandla SP Rahul Kumar Lodha, who said the police have started probing the matter.
“After they discovered that the painting was missing, they called Ramakant Dubey, who was the principal in 2006, to learn what had happened. Dubey told them that the print had been taken away by one of Raza’s relatives four years ago, purportedly to enlarge it. The print has since not been returned to the school,” Lodha told Hindustan Times on the phone.
He said the police are now trying to trace this relative. “In our investigation, if Dubey’s story is found to be fake, an FIR will be registered by the police,” he said.