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Clueless CBI gives up Nobel theft probe

The closure of investigation comes after three years of fruitless probe into the theft of Tagore's Nobel medallion.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2007 22:15 IST

After over three years of investigation that drew a blank, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has finally decided to stop the probe into the theft of Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel medallion from Santiniketan, the idyll of peace and learning founded by the poet and philosopher in West Bengal.

According to local reports quoting the CBI, an officer of deputy superintendent rank (Special Crime Branch) has informed the Visva-Bharati University campus in Santiniketan through a letter (DP/CAS/712/2007/RC.6/S/04-Call) addressed to Vice Chancellor Rajat Kanta Roy that they have decided to stop the inquiry after having failed to make any breakthrough in the case.

The letter also reportedly mentioned that the CBI had tried all its methods but remained clueless about the sensational theft that left the nation stunned and the West Bengal government embarrassed. Besides the medallion, the other memorabilia which went missing in the March 2004 theft - Tagore's gold watch, ornaments and ivory artefacts - could not be recovered.

CBI sources said the case had been closed as its investigations had reached a dead end and this had been informed to the court hearing the matter.

<b1>While Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, an MP from Santiniketan in Birbhum district's Bolpur area, termed the CBI move "unfortunate", vice-chancellor Rajat Kanta Roy said he was yet to receive any letter from the CBI.

"I cannot give any reaction to the news since I have also heard and read it. I am yet to receive the letter," Roy told IANS over phone from Santiniketan when contacted.

However, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: "It is a sad news for the nation if the highest investigating agency in India gives up the probe."

Former Visva-Bharati vice chancellor Sujit Kumar Basu, during whose tenure the medallion and other Tagore memorabilia were stolen, said: "It is too early to stop the probe since in many such cases in the world, the breakthrough came after years of probe."

The CBI had announced a reward of Rs.1 million for information leading to recovery of the medal and sought Interpol's help.

Tagore's Nobel medallion and 43 other items were stolen from Rabindra Bhavan in Santiniketan, about 225 km from Kolkata, on March 25, 2004.

Initially the West Bengal Police and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) started a probe into the matter. Later West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya handed over the probe to the CBI.

Tagore had received the Nobel Prize in 1913 for literature for his work of verses "Gitanjali".

The India Society of London had published "Gitanjali" (meaning song offerings) containing 103 translated poems of Tagore. Irish poet and dramatist W.B. Yeats had written the introduction for this book and Rothenstein did a pencil sketch for the cover page. The book created a sensation in the English literary world.

American poet Ezra Pound's 'Poetry' magazine from Chicago was the first to publish the English poems from "Gitanjali". Six "Gitanjali" poems appeared in the December 1912 issue of the magazine.

After the theft, the Nobel foundation handed over two replicas of the stolen medallion to Visva-Bharati University in 2005.

Rabindranath Tagore, who had moved to Santiniketan in 1901, had founded a school for children there, and it was around this nucleus that the structure of Visva-Bharati, an unconventional university, developed through careful planning later.

First Published: Sep 02, 2007 21:42 IST