To probe into two missing Roerich paintings

A court here has issued Letter Rogatory requesting British authorities to allow the CBI to probe how two valuable paintings of Nicholas Roerich disappeared from the possession of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute here, only to surface at a famed auction house in London.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav ordered the issuance of Letter Rogatory in favour of the Home Office, United Kingdom, after the CBI told the court that it had to collect evidence to prove that the two paintings, depicting the Himalayas, were stolen from the IARI's Pusa Road complex and allegedly presented to Sotheby's, London, by two men who are reported to be of Pakistani origin.

The CBI told the court that it had been granted approval by the Ministry of Home Affairs to seek legal assistance in the probe from the British Government. The paintings are said to be in IARI's possession since Independence after former bureaucrat M. S. Randhawa purchased them.

After Indian authorities became aware of the theft, lawyers representing the two men of Pakistani origin who took the paintings to London are reported to have written to the director of IARI claiming ownership of the paintings.

Keywords: probe