Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pages of stolen Aurangzeb manuscript found in Bihar

Patna : Police have recovered 19 of the 110 pages of a rare manuscript - authored by 17th century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and said to be worth Rs.10 million today - that was stolen from a Bihar school library last year.

Gaya district superintendent of police Amit Jain said Friday they recovered some pages, including the cover page, of the manuscript "Gulistan" from a house in Gaya town, about 100 km from here.

Three people were arrested while negotiating its sale with a Kolkata-based antique dealer who had offered them Rs.2 million for the pages.

"Now our concern is to recover the remaining pages of the rarest of rare manuscript," Jain told IANS over telephone. He hinted that the arrested criminals had given some clues but refused to elaborate.

"Gulistan", written in Persian, was stolen from the Tekari Raj High School library in Gaya about six months ago. Police suspected the hand of international smugglers, dealing in antiques, in the theft.

The crime highlighted the fact that such a rare manuscript had been kept casually in a school library. Incidentally, Magadh Divisional Commissioner S.K. Negi had cautioned the school authorities about its safety.

An expert valued the manuscript to be worth over Rs.10 million in the international market.

"Gulistan", which incorporates colourful paintings and embroidery, also has a picture (sketch) of Aurangzeb - who lived from 1618 to 1707 - printed on the cover page.

"The rare manuscript was lying in the school for over 100 years," a district official said.

There are two theories on how Aurangzeb's "Gulistan" arrived in this school in Tekari, an erstwhile royal estate.

The first one says in 18th century the then king of Alwar in Rajasthan had sold it to his Tekari counterpart for Rs.10,000. It was later donated to the school that was established by the then queen of Tekari, Rani Rajroop Kunwar, in 1876 for the education of her son Gopal Sharan, who later became the king of Tekari.

The second theory says the manuscript could have been presented as a gift to the Tekari estate during Auurangzeb's visit. It was later donated to the school by Rani Rajroop Kunwar.

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