By Saumya Tiwari
Earlier, it was believed that museums host centuries of history for people to get acquainted with a past which will soon be forgotten.
Now, it seems that museums will be remembered as places which successfully led to the disappearance of an important whistleblower of the country who showed that museums are a hub of corruption and fraud too.
A sneak peek into the series of events
Sunil Upadhyay, head of the preservation department, went missing on 3rd July 16 from Indian Museum, Kolkata.
Wait. Last rewind a bit.
July 1: Roof of museum’s third floor collapses, defacing masks and other antiques. Mr. Upadhyay goes to the third floor, clicks pictures, and decides to send them to the ministry.
Other officials request him to delete the pictures, which later turns into a spat.
On the same day, the 35 year-old complains of chest pain and goes to RN Tagore Hospital for a checkup.
July 2: He takes a day off from his office.
July 3: Upadhyay, a bachelor, used to live with his cousin Saroj and his wife Sweta. On the D-day, Sweta recalls him leaving their house at Swiss Park, South Kolkata, in plain casuals and his wallet. She also remembers him leaving his phone, a half-read book by the window side and medicines behind, which suggest he would have gone for a leisurely stroll, which make the chances of planned abduction flaky.
July 4: Family members get disturbed by his disappearance and go and lodge a general diary in the police station.
July 5: Missing man’s two brothers, Anil Upadhyay, stationmaster of Sultanpur, and Rajesh Upadhyay, a businessman in Jaunpur, lodge a complaint with the missing person’s squad at the police headquarters.
July 9: They lodge a complaint with the museum director: B Venugopal.
July 19: After 16 days of his disappearance, Charu Market police station registers an FIR, which mentioned that “unknown persons have kidnapped” Upadhyay. Meanwhile the Upadhyays also met the Governor.
Leads to the Case
Apart from the time-line, the major developments in this are as follows:
⦁ Sunil Upadhyay was a whistleblower. He used to protest ardently against irregularities, particularly fake artifacts. A coworker revealed that Sunil used to pick up issues relating to scandals and mismanagement. He headed a committee set up to probe a suicide committed by an employee, raised voice against the ‘fake Tagore paining’ scandal. Raising voice against higher officials might have lead to his disappearance.
⦁ He had reportedly chided workmen renovating the museum’s roof. A top museum officer says, “Hundreds of crores of money changes hands when contracts are assigned to different firms for renovation/restoration. Contracts are often bought by mafia groups who do not like being told what to do or questioned, which is something Sunil does.”
⦁ He could easily have had a lot of enemies, one of whom might have had him kidnapped, though no call for ransom has being received yet.
⦁ Upadhyay had announced his decision to apply for the post of deputy director and was under severe pressure from the top to withdraw the application. When he refused, he may have been removed and silenced.
What others have to say
1. Governor Kesri Nath Tripathi, who is ex-chairman of the board of trustees said, “I have received reports of irregularities inside the museum from various agencies… I am going through it and will take necessary action.”
2. A forum named, “Friends of Sunil Upadhyay” was created by Sunil’s PhD friends in DU. DU professor Nityanand Agasthy, the forum’s admin, said, “He (Sunil) pointed out so many irregularities at the museum; we suspect foul play. We met the Minister of State for Home and he has assured us help. We have moved the Supreme Court.” This is so far most suspected reason regarding his appearance.
3. Sunil’s brother Anil was unaware of all the office politics unless he came to Kolkata. He suspected Sunil collapsing to a cardiac arrest and being assisted by strangers to nearby hospital. He also searched all the hospitals in Kolkata in a hope to find Sunil resting on one of the beds, but nothing was achieved.
Just like Anil, we fear the case doesn’t get closed once it goes out of limelight. Since Sunil was a reputed scientist from DU, who was also sent to US for higher studies, special attention is expected on the part of Government.
Also, if Sunil is captivated by corrupted authorities, justice should be served fair and square. We expect the concerned authorities to continue working on the case and solve this intriguing mystery as soon as possible.
(Image Credits: Google Images)
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