RTMNU still reluctant to lodge FIR in ‘missing coins’ case

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 30 Dec 2016 10:26:26


By Vikas Vaidya,

Can’t investigate the matter only on the basis of a plain ‘missing’ complaint, say cops

Draftsman, in whose custody the coins were placed, retires and the University issues ‘No Dues Certificate’ to him,

After almost a year, the ‘missing’ coins case still remains a mystery, thanks to the reluctance of Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU) in lodging First Information Report (FIR) with the police. In fact, the person in whose drawer the hoard containing these coins was kept, retired recently and the university again displayed its casual approach to the case by issuing him ‘No Dues Certificate’.

The coins and other valuables from RTMNU’s Department of Archaeology had gone missing. The University came out of deep slumber when the matter was reported by media. However, instead of registering FIR, it lodged a plain ‘missing’ complaint. Police sources said that unless the University lodged FIR, cops can’t launch full-fledged investigations in the absence of which not much progress could be made in the case.

The issue was, and is being, handled very casually by authorities concerned. Initially, RTMNU was not ready to accept the fact that it had such valuables in the department. Wakatak-era Vishnukundin coins worth crores of rupees had gone missing from the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology. When did they vanish, nobody knows. It came to light in 2013 when the then Head of the Department Dr Pradip Meshram had handed over charge of the department to Preeti Trivedi.

When Trivedi asked Meshram to furnish the details of all artefacts, she smelled something fishy in the matter. When the matter reached to Anoop Kumar, Divisional Commissioner, who was then holding charge of Vice-Chancellor of RTMNU, he constituted a five-member committee. It included former Head of the Department Dr Chandrashekhar Gupta, Ismail Kellelu, Nandini Sahu, Dr Shubha Johari, and noted historian Dr B R Andhare. The committee prepared a report and submitted it to Anoop Kumar. The report clearly indicted Dr Pradip Meshram, former Head, for this coin fiasco, said highly placed sources.

Though the matter was clear on the basis of the committee’s report, Vice-Chancellor Dr S P Kane did not approach the police for a long time for reasons best known to him. When the media reported the matter widely, the university reluctantly gave a ‘missing complaint’ to the police. After almost one year, the university is still reluctant to lodge FIR in this regard.
Interestingly, whatever investigation is done by cops on the basis of even the plain complaint, points at Dr Meshram’s involvement in the case. However, given the reluctance of the university authorities, police sources said that once the FIR was lodged, the matter should be handed over to State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) since the case relates to artefacts ‘missing’ from the custody of the university.

Another instance shows how casual is the university in the case. As per the rules, counting of the coins is must every year. But it was not done for many years. There was a Draftsman named Saharkar, who had kept the hoard containing the coins, in the drawer of his table. Recently, he got retired and the university happily issued to him the ‘No Dues Certificate’. This leaves one wondering if the university is seriously concerned about ancient coins that have gone ‘missing’, or it wants to hush-up the matter.

It may be mentioned here that only after ‘The Hitavada’ published a report quoting from an article written by Dr Pradip Meshram in 2007, the university authorities admitted to having the coins in its custody. Later on, Dr Kane himself revealed that 2,633 antiquities were missing from RTMNU’s Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology. University says all of these artefacts are not as valuable as the coins, but cops found out that these included golden spears, rings etc whose value might be in lakhs of rupees.

The then Commissioner of Police S P Yadav and Joint Commissioner Rajvardhan had told ‘The Hitavada’ that they did not get any information from the university as it too did not have clear statistics. The sitting Head of the Department also failed to provide answers to certain questions asked to her when she had gone to police to lodge ‘missing’ complaint.