Not too many people have had access to legendary cricketer Ranji’s famous Pratap Vilas Palace in Jamnagar.
Only a handful of British sportswriters and journalists have managed to enter the erstwhile residence of Ranji, after convincing Ranji’s allegedly moody descendent Shatrushalyasinhji Jadeja, the former maharaja of Jamnagar.
Until Thursday night, when some burglars manage to make away with many expensive articles and damaged a lot of other things. Fortunately, nothing belonging to the legendary cricketer, credited with having invented the aesthetically beautiful leg-glance, was stolen.
“It’s a very sad and shocking experience. I must say the burglars were adventurous enough to have dared enter the palace in a manner no one has before! Their intentions were very clear. They wanted to steal everything belonging to Ranji.
“But they must have been greatly disappointed because I’ve preserved his memorabilia -- and there’re so many of them -- in the Ranji Memorial Trust that I formed during his centenary year in 1972,” said Shatrushalyasinhji, who always avoids the Indian media, in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times.
“But they didn’t go empty-handed. They took away several rare bronze statues, silver utensils, glass vases, paintings and many other old but invaluable things belonging to a different era. I’m very upset to have lost these prized possessions.
As if that weren’t enough, the burglars damaged equally priceless other things, which outnumbered even the ones they stole, in their anger and frustration at having failed to find a single item connected with Ranji,” he revealed.
“The then Jamnagar Rangoon Society in Burma had presented an artistic gold-plated wooden pagoda to my father. The burglars completely destroyed it, presumably to remove its gold plating.
The whole palace is in a mess. We’ve lodged a police complaint and I hope a fair inquiry will be conducted,” said a dejected Shatrushalyasinhji.
“We’ve been conducting an inquiry and we’re confident that we’ll be able to nab the burglars along with the stuff they’ve stolen. We’ve sought services of the forensic experts and also employed sniffer dogs,” inspector BB Bhedi said.