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Search for museum official 'futile'

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Monday told the Supreme Court that despite its best efforts it had failed to track Sunil Kumar Upadhyay, preservation officer of Indian Museum who disappeared in July last year after speaking up about alleged theft of artefacts from the museum.

The State's standing counsel, Kabir Sankar Bose, placed before a bench headed by Justice J. Chelameshwar a copy of the SIT report on investigation so far.

The SIT had been appointed by the apex court based on a PIL filed by Krishna Mohan Upadhyay, Sunil's cousin, after his family alleged foul play. The PIL had sought a CBI probe, but the court ordered an SIT investigation by a team of CID officers led by Damayanti Sen.

In its report, the SIT on Monday said the victim was deeply religious and had several health-related problems, including behavioural disorder, and that he had been depressed after a central government probe committee indicted him and other museum officials for the damage of a rare artefact of the Maurya era.

"... the victim was an educated person with strong principles and a strong believer in the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. He used to read books mainly on subjects of religion and meditation and also used to provide financial assistance to needy children in his native village or anyone who approached him for financial help. He was sincere in his work, but he was under severe mental pressure since the committee appointed by the Government of India had pointed out about the mismanagement in the course of shifting of the Lion Capital on the part of the officers of the Indian Museum of whom he was one," the report said.

The SIT team submitted that "keeping the investigations pending would not serve any useful purpose".

Opinion

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