Paying homage to Rabindranath Tagore on his 161st birth anniversary, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lamented that the bard's Nobel Prize, which was stolen 18 years ago, is yet to be found.
She maintained that this "failure" on the part of CBI is a "big insult" for the people of Bengal.
Expressing apprehension that the CBI might have closed the probe by now, she said, "It pains me to think that the Nobel could not be traced even after so many years. This (theft) happened during the Left Front regime. I do not know if any evidence still exists," Banerjee said during her address at a state government programme.
"It was the first Nobel we had received. And someone snatched it away from us. This is a big insult for us," she said.
Tagore was in 1913 awarded Nobel Prize in Literature for 'Gitanjali', a collection of poems.
On March 25 2004, the medal and citation were found stolen from the safety vault of Visva Bharati museum.
Banerjee said the great poet will live on through his work.
"Do remember that Rabindranath Tagore can never be forgotten. The Nobel Prize that got lost is inscribed in our hearts. There can be only one Kabiguru," Banerjee said.
Earlier in the day, TMC MLA Mangobindho Adhikari ruffled feathers when he said "boys of Bengal" had stolen the Nobel to avenge the humiliation meted out to the bard.
The legislator, however, did not explain the rationale behind the statement.
Adhikari, later in the day, said that it was a "slip of the tongue".
Taking a dig at the CBI, he also claimed that the state police would have cracked the Nobel theft case by now.
Senior BJP leader Rahul Sinha said that the TMC government's "non-cooperation" with the central agency was to blame for the delay in investigation.
"The CBI would have completed its job by now. It was due to non-cooperation of the TMC government, the probe got delayed," he said.
Sinha also alleged that TMC leaders were involved in the theft, an allegation that was rubbished as "baseless" by the ruling camp.
"In none of the reports, the CBI ever claimed that there was any non-cooperation by the state government. The allegations are baseless and politically motivated," TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said.
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