Two rare invaluable terracotta statues of Hindu God Vishnu were stolen from the Zia International Airport of Bangladesh. The statues, valued at about $65,000, were among a number of artifacts sent to France for exhibition at Guimet Museum in France by the Bangladesh government. The two terracotta statues were sculpted about 1,500 years ago. These are masterpieces and very valuable to cultural heritage o Bangladesh. There were 13 wooden-made crates containing 147 pieces, which were scheduled to be sent to France by a cargo plane of Air France.
Police arrested 15 employees of the National Museum, Civil Aviation Authority, Air France, airport ground handling operations, Ansar and the shipping agency for questioning. Besides, police launched a combing operation at the airport and surrounding areas, including ponds and ditches employing divers of Bangladesh Navy to recover the invaluable artifacts.
Earlier, 42 artifacts in 10 crates were sent to Paris for the exhibition. The second consignment of 147 artifacts is being sent after the Supreme Court cleared the legal roadblocks. The rare statues represent a deity known as the preserver of the universe and were selected from five state-run museums after an agreement between the French Embassy and the government’s cultural affairs ministry.
After the incident of theft the government of Bangladesh decided not to send the second consignment of 143 artifacts for exhibition in Guimet Museum in Paris. The decision was taken at a special meeting of the Council of Advisers taking the "public sentiment into account."
Besides, the meeting formed a high-powered inquiry committee with Cabinet Secretary as convener to investigate how two rare terracotta artifacts.
An official announcement said due to an unfortunate incident of theft of two artefacts from Zia International Airport and because of complexity and taking into consideration the public sentiment that arose due to this incident the remaining artifacts would not be dispatched at this time.