Two other houses in the same area as Satyarthi’s have also been broken into.
New Delhi: A replica of the Nobel Peace Prize and citation awarded to child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi were among the valuables stolen from his southeast Delhi residence on Tuesday.
Mr Satyarthi, who is currently in Panama with his wife, implored the people involved in the early morning theft to understand the significance of the award and not get carried away by its monetary value.
Mr Satyarthi had presented his Nobel medal to President Pranab Mukherjee in January 2015. The original medal has been preserved, and is now on display at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum, his office said.
The police said the matter came to light when Rakesh Sengar of Mr Satyarthi’s NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan went to take his car from the activist’s Kalkaji residence around 9 am.
“I had gone there around 9 am. I saw the dhobi knocking on the door, which was surprisingly open. When I entered the flat, I found things scattered all over (in Mr Satyarthi’s bedroom). The locker was also broken. The replica of the Nobel, which is as good as the original, and the citation are missing along with a host of other mementos from around the world and some jewellery. A similar theft had occurred in BBA’s Kalkaji office in 2010,” Mr Sengar said.
The police said that it appeared the burglars had come with the intention of stealing only jewellery, as other expensive items were left untouched. They must have mistook the Nobel replica as a jewellery item, a senior officer said.
“The Nobel Prize citation and the replica were kept in jewellery boxes, and we suspect that the burglars took them away thinking them to be jewels. It’s a specific modus operandi,” said a senior police officer.
Mr Satyarthi’s son, Bhuvan Ribhu, who is also the national secretary of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, said, “Sengar informed me about the incident. It appeared that they were looking for something specific. They also took some ancestral jewellery. For someone who continues to stay in a DDA flat, the news was shattering. He is returning on the 10th,” he said.
After the police was informed about the theft of the Nobel Prize replica, teams from forensic science laboratory teams, dog squads and district crime teams inspected the spot and collected fingerprints.
The police said all the lockers of the master bedroom were broken, and that it was suspected that the burglary took place in the wee hours of Tuesday. It also said that the entry gate near Mr Satyarthi’s residence was unmanned.
“There are 17 entry gates to the residential complex that houses Satyarthi’s flat, which is located on the ground floor. Out of the 17 entry gates, 10 are always open. There are only three guards to man the gates. It has been found that the entry gate near his residence was unmanned,” said a senior police officer.
Despite the presence of CCTV cameras, the police don’t have much video evidence since many cameras weren’t working.
“Five CCTV cameras weren’t in working condition. Around two to three cameras are in working condition and we are looking at their footage for clues,” he added.
The Delhi police’s crime branch is also assisting the local police in the probe. Two other houses in the same area as Mr Satyarthi’s have also been broken into.
“All the houses that were broken into were locked. Someone might have given the input about the houses that have been locked for days, since only those houses have been broken into,” said the officer, adding that the “maximum vandalism” happened in the Nobel laureate’s house.
It is suspected that the gang involved in the burglary entered the residential area on some pretext during the day to see that the houses were locked. The police suspected that the information that there was no one at the houses might have been leaked by someone from the society, like a milkman or a newspaper delivery boy.
The police has started questioning the jewellery dealers in the area. Burglars, who specifcally steal jewellery, have been rounded up for investigation.
“My Nobel Prize belongs to my country and its children. I appeal to the conscience of the people involved to understand its significance and not get distracted by its monetary value. A police probe has been initiated and I have complete faith in the authorities and the legal bodies of our country,” Mr Satyarthi said in a statement.
The child rights activist won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. He shared the prize with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai. Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize medal had also been stolen in 2004 from the Visva Bharati University’s museum in Santiniketan, only to be never recovered again.
On November 29, 2016, a theft took place at the official bungalow of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in Delhi and six idols, an antique piece and copper spectacles were stolen from the premises.
On April 27, 2016, a dagger, gifted to former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru during one of his foreign visits, was allegedly stolen from the Nehru Museum in New Delhi.