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Theft, forgery rumours enrage Bangladeshi art lovers PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 February 2008

Agency

Frenzied art lovers have forced the government of Bangladesh to order a public display of ancient artefacts next week to dispel doubts the invaluable relics could have been counterfeited while in France recently for an exhibition.

A consignment of 42 artefacts arrived in Dhaka earlier this week from the Guimet Museum in Paris, which borrowed it from Bangladesh for an exhibition.

Bangladesh's decision to send the consignment to France last December was mired in a controversy after two 1,500-year old statues of Hindu Lord Vishnu were stolen from the Dhaka airport while being shipped to Paris.

Furious art lovers and conservationists accused Bangladesh's army-backed interim government of failing to ensure adequate security for the artefacts.

The protests forced authorities to cancel the shipment of a second consignment and ask the Guimet Museum to return the first consignment as quickly as possible. After the artefacts arrived back in Bangladesh, doubts spread over their genuineness.

To quell the rumours, Bangladesh Cultural Affairs ministry has ordered the Dhaka Museum Authorities to hold an open exhibition of the relics.

The open-for-all display will be held on March 3, and the government's cultural affairs adviser (minister) Rasheda K. Chowdhury has asked all art enthusiasts and connoisseurs to visit and check the objects to remove suspicions The Guimet had also cancelled the planned exhibition of the Bangladeshi artefacts while the French government promised to return them in fully protected and secured manner.

Adviser Rasheda told reporters at the weekend that the open display had been ordered for March 3 and urged people not to speculate but to see for themselves that the relics were genuine.

"It (cheating) cannot be. We invite all sections of people to come to the display at the Dhaka Museum and check the items there," she said.

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