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Burglary boom in Bolpur

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  • Published 27.03.04

Santiniketan, March 27: From antique smuggling to burglaries, the crime graph in and around the abode of Rabindranath Tagore has taken a sharp upward curve over the last two years, notwithstanding claims by the Visva-Bharati University authorities that Santiniketan is a “crime-free zone”.

Senior police officials, now in Bolpur to trace the criminals who cleaned out the Rabindranath Memorial Museum, are questioning the logic of the university authorities for not bolstering security around Bichitra, the building that housed the Tagore treasures.

“We have scanned the records and seen that crime has increased by leaps and bounds in and around Santiniketan over the years, which is serious food for thought,” said a senior CID official.

Eleven to 15 burglaries are recorded every month at Bolpur police station compared to about four or five two years ago.

“We cannot leave our houses vacant and go for a holiday. Things have taken a turn for the worse now,” said Deepankar Saha, a resident of Purbapalli, a posh locality.

The spurt has coincided with a thriving international smuggling racket between India and Bangladesh routed through Birbhum, said S.K. Mitra, the circle inspector in Santiniketan.

A few weeks ago, a rare Krishna idol valued at over Rs 2.5 lakh went missing from a house near Bolpur. It is yet to be traced and police officials believe it must have reached the hands of a private collector.

In 2001, rare black-stone Saraswati idols worth lakhs of rupees went missing from the famous Bishalakshmi temple in Nanoor, about 20 km from Santiniketan.

Towards the end of that year, robbers struck closer, this time 3 km from Tagore’s town, and stole rare idols from Taltore.

Two months ago, the police zeroed in on three members of a gang involved in smuggling antiques across the border. “Some of them confessed to their involvement in selling antiques, mainly rare idols and memorabilia of the Pal and Sen dynasty, in the black market across the border. But the kingpin eluded us,” a district intelligence branch official said.

Another Indo-Bangla gang caught by the police recently has confessed to smuggling over 27 motorbikes to Bangladesh from Bolpur.