The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CBI zooms in on ‘valuable leads’

Santiniketan, April 6: The CBI today said it is expecting a breakthrough in the Tagore heist probe “soon” and that the memorabilia have not gone outside India.

CBI additional director Vijay Shankar said they had enough evidence to suggest that Tagore’s Nobel medallion and the other stolen treasures have not been smuggled beyond the international border.

Refusing to elaborate, Shankar said the CBI is working on “valuable leads at the moment”. However, he also added that to make sure all ends are carefully sewn up, the Interpol has been alerted. The agency has been asked to check if antique value items similar to the ones stolen from the museum have been sold in the international black market recently.

Shankar said after several days of investigation, the “objective and planning of the heist by the burglars is clear”. He declined to give details for the sake of the investigation.

CID officials today said the “chance fingerprints” of Pradip Bauri that the CBI had collected from them had matched with those found in the museum. However, neither the CBI nor the CID would say anything officially.

Shankar’s one-day visit to Santiniketan was meant to supervise the investigation and patch up relations between the CBI sleuths and the state police. “I must thank the state government, its CID officials and superintendent of police, Birbhum district, Akhil Roy for their cooperation. We are working jointly on this case,” Shankar said.

The additional director spent about two hours with Sujit Kumar Basu, the vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati University. Shankar apparently asked Basu to provide a list of thefts on the campus since 1977.

“We just want to take a look at the burglaries and thefts on the campus and the result of the investigations. There might be something common coming up somewhere down the line,” a senior CBI official said.

After a marathon session interrogating security guards and National Volunteer Force personnel, the central bureau sleuths are planning to examine “a few senior” varsity officials. Research scholars, specially those from abroad, will also be questioned.

During the day, the detectives analysed the structure of the university hierarchy and its functioning. “The idea is to gather as much information as possible about the people who had access to the museum. We have asked them about the university’s administrative structure and collected all necessary data. A list of the officials who look after different wings has been prepared,” the official said.

Shankar also spoke to registrar S.K. Sarkar and collected a list of the varsity’s executive council members. “We recorded the process through which the members are elected. Besides, the names of those attached to the students’ union were also taken down,” a CBI official said.

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