CID officials turn blind eye to probe in theft of Mahatma Gandhi's spectacles
Times of India
By Soumittra S Bose
NAGPUR: The special inquiry report by sleuths of state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) regarding the theft of Mahatma Gandhi's spectacles from Bapu Kuti in Sewagram in Wardha is gathering dust at the agency's Pune headquarters for the last six months. There has been no action on the report, despite many reminders.
It is not clear whether the delay is due to political pressure to avoid tarnishing the image of the ashram or an attempt to suppress the facts until the case fades away from public memory.
The senior CID officials are not showing any interest in acting upon the inquiry report, which sought permission to arrest persons on whom the agency's special team had laid specific culpability regarding the theft. Sources said trustees and several insiders at Bapu's ashram have been named in the report as responsible for the theft, and CID's special team had sought permission to take them into custody.
The CID probe revealed there was constant email communication between the person described as the 'custodian' of the key of the room where the specs were kept and a French national. This French national, learnt to be a teacher, had been a regular visitor at the ashram. Emails traced by the CID team also mention this Frenchman had 'gifted' a laptop to the man in charge of the keys. The email interactions before and after the probe started were recovered by CID despite many of them having been deleted from the inbox.
Intriguingly, the man with the key also mentions that cops have started inquiring into the specs theft. The French national was also told by this suspect that the police had been asking about him. Sources also said the French national skipped his visit last year after the theft came to fore.
The report also mentions the possibility of Gandhiji's specs having been spirited away to France, but the agency top brass is sitting tight.
State CID was roped in for the probe after the theft of Bapu's spectacles was reported in 2011, some seven months after they disappeared. The agency believes the theft took place around November 20, 2010. The spectacles were donated by Bapu's granddaughter Nirmalaben.
Some ashram trustees and workers under the scanner for the theft are also claiming that the specs stolen were not the real ones. They say it was an unauthenticated piece of memorabilia which one of Gandhiji's kin donated to the ashram.
Sewagram Ashram Trust Pratishthan president Madhav Gadkari and trustee Avinash Katade were not contactable despite repeated attempts. Radha Bhatt, chairperson of Sarv Seva Sangh, which oversees the ashram's affairs, said the state CID should go ahead with the probe if they had come across something concrete in terms of evidence.
This is not the first theft of Bapu's spectacles. There was a report of Bapu's specs having been stolen from an exhibition at Rajkot in 2010. The specs were allegedly auctioned later in the US.