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Bangladesh minister has stepped down over artifacts theft PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 28 December 2007

Bangladesh minister has stepped down over artifacts theft
preparing a bronze statue from Bangladesh
Bangladesh's cultural affairs minister has stepped down over the theft of two 1,500-year-old terracotta statues of the Hindu deity Vishnu, two private television channels said.

Ayub Qadri tendered his resignation late Wednesday to president Iajuddin Ahmed after the statues disappeared from the capital's Zia International Airport en route to Paris over the weekend, private Channel One and NTV said.

The president's secretary, Sirajul Islam, told AFP that he was unaware of the resignation.

Qadri was heavily criticised for his handling of the artefacts, which were among 188 rare cultural items to be shipped to the Guimet Museum in the French capital for an exhibit early next year on Bangladesh culture and history.

The cabinet decided at a special meeting Tuesday to cancel the exhibition in light of the apparent theft, the government has said.

The first consignment of 42 items was sent to Paris on December 1.

Police have launched a nationwide hunt for the thieves and sought help from Interpol to retrieve the stolen relics after detaining 15 people in connection with the case.

The rare statues represent a deity known as the preserver of the universe. They were among the items selected from five state-run museums over opposition by some local art curators after an agreement between the French embassy and the government's cultural affairs ministry.

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