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Air cleared on surrender pistol

New Delhi, June 30: The documentation of the National Museum exhibit on the Signing of Surrender Documents Indo-Pak War 1971 does not say the pistol that went missing on Saturday belonged to Pakistan General A.A.K. Niazi.

Navy and museum officials, however, had told the media after the robbery that the .762-calibre Chinese pistol belonged to Niazi.

The Indian Military Academy in Dehradun today officially clarified that Niazi’s revolver was with them and not in the Naval Maritime Gallery at the National Museum.

Museum officials, too, said today that the documentation on the surrender ceremony did not specifically mention the pistol displayed was Niazi’s. According to museum director of conservation S.P. Singh, all that the documentation said was “surrender pistol”. Perhaps, the navy’s Senior Sailor, Akbar Ali, who was guarding the gallery on Saturday, linked the missing weapon to Niazi in a rush, another museum officer said.

The gallery on the museum’s first floor houses a metallic impression that records the historic event of December 16, 1971, showing General Niazi signing the instrument of surrender in Dhaka in front of Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora.

A page containing a brief history of the surrender ceremony hangs below and next to it is the glass cabinet that held the missing pistol.

Delhi police, which has closed the gallery indefinitely, visited it again today to piece together the story of the missing weapon. The officers questioned Senior Sailor D.K. Saini, the other guard at the gallery who was on duty today but was absent on Saturday.

Military academy chief Lt General T.S. Shergill tried to clear the air today by showing the media in Dehradun the revolver Niazi had handed over during Pakistan’s surrender in 1971. He also showed a photograph of the surrender ceremony.

“The priceless symbol of our glorious victory was brought to the alma mater and presented to the then IMA Commandant, Lt General M. Thomas, on December 9, 1982 by (Lt General) Aurora during the golden jubilee celebrations,” Shergill said.

He displayed a photograph showing Aurora handing the weapon to Thomas in 1982.

The revolver, Shergill said, was on display at the academy museum ever since it was brought from the Eastern Command in Calcutta.

On its left side was inscribed “Lt Gen. Niazi’s personal weapon” and on the other, “surrendered to Lt Gen. Aurora PVSM, 1971”.

The security for the academy was beefed up after the pistol robbery, Shergill said.

Though Delhi police ruled out the involvement of Akbar Ali in the theft, they were yet to zero in on the culprit.

According to police, more than one person was involved in the robbery, which was clinically executed. Perhaps, one person stole the weapon and passed it to another who carried it out of the museum, they said.

The police last night combed the museum and its adjoining area in a futile bid to find the weapon that the robber might have thrown on the campus.

Museum director-general D.K. Chaudhary today called a meeting of Central Industrial Security Force officials and his employees to strengthen security in the building.

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