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(PLUNDER OF HERITAGE-I: Antiques smugglers had a chargeless run of Punjab’s heritage)

On January 25, 2015, through an email, antiques smuggler Nanda instructed his point being Devesh Goel in Delhi to annex some appliance from Chandigarh and Punjab. The account of 31 items mentions the numbers in which anniversary account was required. He tells him that these “need to be accessible for above sales in June”. The account comprises a rosewood table and the acclaimed V, X and Z-shaped chairs of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret.

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Several appliance items with descriptions identical to this list, such as “tree block coffee table” and “kangaroo chairs”, are now on affectation at Kukje Arcade in Seoul. It was Nanda who had awash these items for ample amounts to the gallery. As per four invoices (dated July 11 and August 22, 2016), his New York-based aggregation Sage Mercantile awash 19 items accompanying to Chandigarh and Punjab’s ancestry appliance to Kukje Arcade for Rs12.62 crore. These invoices were recovered by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) from Nanda during analysis and are the allotment of the DRI dossier, a archetype of which is with The Tribune.

The best bulk amid these 19 items was fetched by a two-component “minister’s table”. As per Nanda’s invoice, it was fabricated in 1958 for ministers and acquired from the Punjab Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh. Nanda awash it off for USD 3.8 lakh (Rs2.43 crore) on August 22, 2016.

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Similarly, two added items awash off as atom by Punjabi University, Patiala, in 2014 and allegedly purchased by Punjab’s above Director, Archaeology & Museums, Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa, through Patiala-based atom banker Sandeep Singh Anand, fetched Rs2.43 crore. A library table adapted with a ablaze from 1962 and addition one with a disposable top from 1966, of Punjabi University, Patiala, went for USD 1.71 lakh and USD 1.14 lakh, respectively. A “boomerang table” from the Assembly (1963-64) went for Rs70 lakh.

Going by the dossier, admitting Nanda was into smuggling artefacts for long, he started assuming absorption in the ancestry appliance advised by architects Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in 2014. It was the appearance back he met Randhawa through Devesh Goel.

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In bunco with Randhawa, Nanda managed to get appliance from acute places such as the aerial court, Assembly, Civil Secretariat, MLA Hostel, and Panjab University. An email amid Nanda and Goel on October 1, 2015, confirms this in which Nanda asked for four chairs of Corbusier, which “can either be lying at the Secretariat or UT Administering offices”. He added said that a library table with ablaze could be at Panjab University or Sports Library, Patiala; kangaroo chairs or hospital armchair in the PGI, Chandigarh; eight library chairs in any of the libraries in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh; a rosewood table at the canteen in Panjab University; “half day bed” at MLA hostel; bifold book arbor at the PWD Department in Chandigarh and a low table at Himalaya Hostel, Chandigarh. At the end of the email, Nanda told Goel that he had discussed the amount “with Randhawa”.

Randhawa has accepted afore the DRI that he provided Goel capacity of the places area accurate types of appliance could be found. After facilitating the procurement, Randhawa additionally helped them body their case of 18-carat ancestry status. Nanda instructed Goel to “talk to Randhawaji about a letter/certificate acceptance the places.” He added ordered it “should attending like article official”.

Randhawa provided them copies of aboriginal bills of Standard Appliance House amid in Chandigarh’s Bajwara village, from area the government purchased the appliance in 1954-55. He additionally provided them government affairs accompanying to purchases and receipts of payments. These abstracts were acquired from Punjab Archives, of which Randhawa was in-charge. However, Randhawa claimed that all these files were accustomed to Nanda for analysis for his book.

Most of these appliance items were after taken abroad in “four truckloads” and stored at Goel’s barn in Delhi. From there, the appliance was awash off to assorted bargain houses beyond the apple over the accomplished brace of years. It happened admitting the actuality that in acknowledgment to a PIL in 2011 the Chandigarh Administering had submitted to the Aerial Cloister an account of ancestry appliance in the city. The administering additionally gave an adventure that it “is committed to assure and preserve” Chandigarh’s heritage. “It is abominable that admitting such undertakings, smugglers took abroad appliance from judges’ accommodation in the aforementioned court,” says Chandigarh-based apostle Ajay Jagga, who had filed the PIL.

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