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Paris Exhibition and theft of archaeological works at Zia airport December 24, 2007

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, Culture.
Tags: , , , ,

[Updated on 28 Dec 2007 ]
Photo: Daily Star

Two 1500 years old terracotta Vishnu statues have been stolen from the Zia airport when it was about to shift to Paris by an Air France cargo plane. The statues are highly valuable and important proof of our rich cultural history.

In reaction, French Ambassador said that the disappearance of the statues is highly suspicious and could be result of a conspiracy to embarrass France and Bangladesh(Daily Star).

A group of art lovers was against the transfer of the artifacts[see earlier post].

The art connoisseurs has expressed anger on the theft and demanded the arrest of all people who were responsible for sending the artifacts. They term the whole process as the biggest cultural disasters and blame the government for not hearing them for not sending the artifact to Paris for display.

The French Ambassador has said to the journalists that the issue was given unnecessary publicity by a section of people which created such a situation(ATN).

The Adviser for Cultural Affairs Ayub Quadri said that the responsibility of this mishap lies with him and he personally is of the opinion to suspend the transfer of the artworks until the theft materials are found out. But he continued the ultimate decision will depend on the Government as it is related with many other issues such as contract between France and Bangladesh, international relations between the two countries etc(ATN).

In the mean time, government has formed a committee a committee to find out the stolen statues. The police have taken all out efforts, 10 men were arrested, and many have been questioned. Interpol has also been contacted. The authority has said that once the statues are found all who are connected to the theft will bring to the court of justice.


An ordinary citizen

Post Script: 26 Dec 07 0-30 am BDT

The Advisers’ Committee met yesterday and decided not to send the relics to Paris for displaying in the GUIMET Museum. The Government decided to inform the backgroud of the decision in a letter to the French authorities.


Stolen statue 1 : Vishnu

After government decision , remaining 143 artifacts were taken back to the National Museum. The government also took the decision to bring back the 43 artifact earlier sent to the GUIMET museum.


Stolen statue 2 : Bust of Vishnu

People of different sections are criticizing the government for their earlier decision.

But the decision could be a different one – to continue ahead with the program and to find out the stolen statues and related persons.

The government will only feel relieved if the stolen statues are found out and the French Ambassador will feel comfort if his accusation is proved true (that the people who opposed the shipment has created the situation).

In the meantime, Ms. Matiya Chy, Presidium member of AL criticized the comment and expression of the French Ambassador and urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take up the matter.

15 persons who were on duty in the cargo village on the day have been arrested and remanded for interrogation.

But so far there is no progress in the recovery of the theft statues.

( Source: Daily Star, Channel Eye)


26.12.07 11-30 pm BDT (GMT+6)


It is reported on the TV channels as breaking news that Adviser, Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs Ayub Quadri tendered his resignation on the background of the theft of two statues at Zia International airport.


27 Dec 12-30 pm BDT (GMT+6)

News link : Ayub Quadri resigns amid uproar of artifact theft

27 Dec 11-30 pm BDT

President of the Bangladesh accepted the resignation of Ayub Quadri. Most of the advisers’ told the incident as sad and unfortunate. But the Law Adviser Barrister Moinul Hussain said that it was to some extent induced by the media who raise demand for his resignation over a petty matter like a theft in the airport and the decision to send the artifact to French was of the Care Taker Government, not of him alone. But to resign was his own decision.

The ordinary citizen also feel that the incident as itself was not significant enough to resign. Then was he hurt for some other reasons? Did he use the incident to dissociate himself from a gradually unpopularized government or did he want to avoid himself to confront a complex political situation in future in Bangladesh? The answers of all these speculations are beyond the ordinary citizen reach.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the broken pieces of the statues are recovered from a dustbin. Experts are examining the pieces but they are yet sure about the finding.

7 more people has been arrested including 1 ex MP and 1 deputy secretary of Bangladesh government in relation to theft of the statues.( TV news)


28 dec 00-45 am BDT

News link : Stolen artifacts destroyed


29 Dec 2007

Broken pieces of stolen statues are recovered

Paris Exhibition, controversies and final judgment by the Supreme Court December 21, 2007

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, Culture.
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1 comment so far


paris-exibition.jpgControversy developed when a contract was signed between the Ambassador of France and the Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Bangladesh to send 188 archaeological items to Paris for exhibition in GUIMET Museum, Paris.

Though such exhibition is not a new one and artworks from many other countries have been displayed before in the museum but some art lovers from Bangladesh stood against the display, expressed their fear of lost, theft, replication, even accident on the way, in the press conference and filed a case in the high Court to ban the movement.

Though Ministry of Cultural Affairs tried their best to convince the people who were against the movement and the French Ambassador himself gave the assurance from his government, many critics remain unconvinced. Ultimately full bench of Supreme Court had to give judgment to permit the government to send the items for exhibition in Paris.

The lawyer in favour of plaintiff said that they are not against the exhibition but what they want is the transparency of the process and security of the items.

But even after the Supreme Court given the permission, some people tried to obstruct the final passage of the items to Paris from the National Museum.

All this controversies make the exhibition delayed to 9th January which will continue upto 31 st March 2008, the Museum had to say, was beyond their will.

They acknowledged Bangladesh has rich archaeological heritage of great civilizations of centuries in contrast to common perception of a country of natural catastrophe. 4 great religions of the history Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam are represented in the archaeological works of Bangladesh.


You may visit the site of the GUIMET Museum and have a look into the activities of the museum.

An ordinary citizen

28 Dec 2007 00-15am

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