Lal Bahadur’s watch stolen from memorial

A precious golden watch of Late prime minister Lal Bahadur Sashtri has gone missing from his memorial.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Days after a theft was reported from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, thieves have struck again in Lutyen’s Delhi. This time they have done away with a precious golden watch of Late prime minister Lal Bahadur Sashtri kept at his memorial.

The watch, gifted to Shastri, country’s second prime minister, by his Russian counterpart Alexei Kosygin during the historic Tashkent conference in 1966, was kept at Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial here; located next to Sonia Gandhi`s residence.

Authorities of the memorial came to know about the incident only on September 03 but, curiously, approached the police four days thereafter. The reason they are given is that they first tried to find it on their own and when it remained untraceable, then they approached the police on September 07.

In his complaint to the Tughlak Road police station, Professor A K Das, director of the memorial, said that he and his staff had conducted an independent inquiry into the incident but had not been able to find the watch.

The police have lodged an FIR (number 110) under Section 380 (theft) of the IPC.

The police are of the opinion that most of the items in display at the museum are of antique value but they may not be safe because of a lax security cover.

However, prima-facie, the police believes it to be a handiwork of someone from the spectators. A case has been registered and investigation is going on.

It’s not for the first time that such memorabilia have gone missing. Earlier in 2004, Rabindranath Tagore`s Nobel medallion was stolen from the campus of Visva Bharati University in Shanti Niketan.

After three years of fruitless probe, CBI had closed the case on August 30, 2007 and the bowing to public pressure reopened it on September 18, 2008.

The plot where the memorial stands is where Shastri lived. It was turned into the memorial after the death of Shastri`s wife and all the articles used by the late prime minister were kept there. The memorial displays his rare photographs, watches, and an overcoat he wore in Tashkent among other things.

Anil Shastri, the son of the late prime minister, said suspicion is on an unidentified couple and another man who spent "more than usual time" there on September three.

"After his return from Russia, my father called me and
asked whether I would like to wear the gold watch. He was a
simple man and told me that he will not wear it. I wore it for
40 years and when the memorial was inaugurated in 2005, I
donated it to the museum," he said.

He said he did not expect such a theft would take place at the memorial of an "honest man". He also said that Memorial officials have written to CPWD asking them to provide locks for showcases which exhibit rare articles of Shastri. This is the second case of theft at a high-profile building in the national capital in the past one week. On
September four, police received a complaint that the office of
President Pratibha Patil`s Officer on Special Duty was burgled
in the high-security Rashtrapati Bhavan complex.

The watch was gifted to Shastri by Kosygin in
Tashkent, days before his death on January 11, 1966 due to
heart attack.

The then Russian prime minister was mediating between
India and Pakistan and reached an agreement which ended the
war between the warring neighbours.

Inputs from Bureau