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Security scurry in Tagore treasure trove

Calcutta, July 18: A day after about 200 Abanindranath Tagore and Jyotirindranath Tagore paintings were found damaged inside a strongroom, Rabindra Bharati University started scurrying for security cover on the Jorasanko campus.

After a marathon four-hour search of the strongroom, which was broken open, high court-appointed special officer Soumava Bhattacharya had said he would also ascertain if any article was missing.

“This is a cause for concern and we want to tighten the security ring around the varsity museum. We wonder why the government was sitting idle for two months on our proposal to create a special security ring around the museum at Jorasanko,” said university registrar Santosh Kumar Ghorai.

The security beef-up, he added, was “scheduled to be done on a war footing after the Nobel medal heist at Santiniketan”.

The registrar had prepared the blueprint of the special security and sent it to the government on May 18. Ghorai said the university had asked for Rs 20 lakh from the government for the purpose.

It is learnt that in April, the government had on its own sought a proposal from the university on how to revamp security on the Jorasanko campus. That was a week after Tagore’s Nobel medal and other priceless memorabilia were found stolen from Rabindra Bhavan in Santiniketan.

The Rabindra Bharati museum is open to visitors on all working days from 10 am to 5 pm. Gold ornaments in glass cases, rare paintings and manuscripts of Tagore and members of his family are on display.

Officials admitted that the existing security arrangements are inadequate.

Ghorai said he had consulted senior city police officers in chalking out ways to introduce a foolproof security system.

Asked about the university’s proposal, higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty said: “Offhand, I can’t give you details but I will certainly enquire about their proposal.”

The university had recently engaged a private agency to secure the museum.

“Four security personnel from a private agency have been assigned exclusively for the museum during office hours. The campus is closed in the evening and policemen guard the premises at night,” said chief security officer Molin Ghosh.

On the proposed security network, senior university officials said they are planning to instal cameras to monitor visitors’ movement and metal detectors at the gate.

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