After 27 days since a break-in at the home-slash-studio of eminent Japan-based Bangladeshi artist Dr Kazi Ghiyasuddin in Savar, police has not yet been able to identify or arrest any of the culprits.
“I suspect they came to either assault me or to scare me,” Kazi Ghiyasuddin, one of the most renowned visual artists of the country, told The Daily Star earlier this week.
The artist, who is also a CIP (commercially important person), was in Japan when the incident took place. On hearing about the burglary, he came to Dhaka on October 30 and has been pressing his case with the police.
He usually stays six months of the year in Japan, and the rest he devotes wholly to painting at the Savar studio.
Ghiyasuddin was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the emperor of Japan in 2018 for his contributions in promoting cultural exchange through development of modern art in Japan and Bangladesh.
“After returning, I found several things missing including a medal awarded by the emperor of Japan, and another awarded by the Bangladesh Bank,” Ghiyasuddin told this newspaper.
Narrating the incident that took place on October 17 night, security guard of the house Sona Mia said a group of seven men, equipped with machetes, wrenches and crowbars entered the compound around 2:30am, jumping over the boundary wall.
“Three of them grabbed me, blindfolded me and tied my hands from behind,” he said, adding he was in front of the entrance to the house on City Lane in Savar’s Anandapur.
“They said they would not kill me if I cooperated, and asked me repeatedly whether anyone was inside the house,” the 66-year-old guard from a private security company said.
The criminals broke open the main door, while one held a machete to his throat, he added.
Around an hour and a half later, the miscreants left the house with some documents, two mobile phones owned by Ghiyasuddin and Sona Mia and the two medals.
They broke wardrobes and scattered documents all over the floor.
Sona Mia said after they left, he managed to untie himself and called the caretaker of the house Bina Beni Shangma and Ghiyasuddin’s personal staff Motilal Chakma, who were at their homes nearby.
Both Bina and Motilal said they found a machete, one wrench and two crowbars, and several small bags of torn cloth scattered all around when they reached the house in the morning.
A sub-inspector of Savar Police Station visited the house around 7am that day after Bina informed the police.
Later, on October 22, police registered a general diary lodged by Sona Mia.
Kazi Ghiyasuddin alleged that Savar police were discouraging him to file a case in connection with the incident.
AFM Sayeed, Officer-in-Charge of Savar Model Police Station said he advised that either Ghiyasuddin or the security guard should be the complainant, but both of them were unwilling.
The police officer also said they were trying to detain the persons responsible for the incident and recover the looted goods. The two stolen cell phones are switched off, and if one of them is turned on, police would be able to track it, he added.
The OC also said the artist has applied for police protection at his house, and will be provided due support.
Kazi Ghiyasuddin suspected that a local person hired the criminals to harm him, as he used to protest against their unfair activities.
The artist had earlier lodged a complaint against a neighbour with Savar Municipality, as the latter reconstructed a boundary wall on top of the existing one beyond the legally permissible height.
Following the complaint, the executive engineer of Savar Municipality issued several notices asking the house owner to clear the wall.
Sharf Uddin Ahmed Choudhury, chief executive officer of Savar municipality, said, “Parts of the wall built beyond the permissible level have been removed.” Meanwhile, Kazi Ghiyasuddin left for Japan yesterday.
Our Savar correspondent contributed to this report.