Artifacts finally back home
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The government, which showed overweening arrogance earlier by not heeding the country-wide outcry against the misadventure, finally had to eat humble pie. At any rate, we would commend the government for belatedly realising its mistake and making an effort to limit the damage. We also appreciate the statement by the cultural adviser that if need be the artefacts would be got examined by foreign experts to make sure that they have not been counterfeited. Yet we cannot say that all has ended well. Two priceless terracotta images of Lord Vishnu were stolen from the Dhaka airport and have reportedly been destroyed inflicting an irreparable loss to the country. The less-than-complete restitution of the museum pieces may be reassuring but the episode has left a bad taste in the mouth. The country's friendly relations with the government of France have also been greatly strained. Although the loss is irretrievable the country may take consolation from the fact that the worst possibilities have been averted. The government has had to pay the price of its insensitivity to public opinion, which included the opinion of relevant experts. The losses cannot be called fortuitous or unforeseeable; the government defiantly walked into the shifting sands when all the cautionary signals had been hoisted. This is another instance that proves that prolonged rule by a non-elected regime has serious negative consequences, as such government never hesitate to take decisions which are contrary to the will of the people. In this case, the government flouted public opinion even though it apparently had nothing to gain by ministering to the demands of Guimet Museum and French authorities. rchaeological relics are prime targets of all varieties of thieves and racketeers and our country must take all out precautions to guard its treasures. Security around these relics should be tightened. After the theft of the two terracotta images a probe committee was formed, nine persons were held and 21 were interrogated. Yet, we do not know what happened afterwards.

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