16 vintage Kashmiri shawls worth lakhs stolen from craft museum in Delhi
Sixteen expensive Kashmiri shawls were allegedly stolen from the national handicrafts and handlooms museum, popularly known as the crafts museum, police said on Wednesday.
Police said the incident took place between Sunday night and Tuesday morning since the museum was closed on Sunday and Monday was a weekly off.
The shawls were stolen from the exhibition boards in the textile gallery at the museum, where they had been on public display for years, police said.
An FIR was registered at the Tilak Marg police station on a complaint by Dumpala Rama Krishna Rao, administrative and security officer, at the crafts museum located on Bhairon Road near Pragati Maidan.
The museum is run by Union ministry of textiles.
In his complaint, Rao told the police that on Tuesday around 9.30 am, Shahjahan Ansari, the custodian of the gallery, opened the room and found 16 Kashmiri shawls missing from the display boards. Ansari informed Rao about the theft and the police control room was informed.
An official in the textile ministry said that the shawls were purchased between 1959 and 1967 from Kashmir. The total cost of the shawls at that time was R24,829. The present value of the stolen shawls might run into lakhs.
“The shawls were kept in plastic cupboards that were cut by the thieves. The thieves entered the museum after breaking open an iron grill and a window,” said the ministry official.
BK Singh, deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi), said a team has been formed to probe the case, identify and arrest the suspects and recover the stolen shawls.
“We are analysing the CCTV camera footage from the museum to identify the suspects. Certain clues have emerged during the probe and we are developing them,” said Singh. The photos of the stolen shawls have been provided to the police.
The ministry official said the museum staff suspect the role of a research scholar who had been frequenting the museum recently.
“This person had claimed that he was doing research on Kashmiri shawls. He was in the museum till 5pm on Sunday. The theft could not be seen in the footage since there was little light in the gallery when the incident took place,” the official said.
Police are also probing museum staff.