Sending artefacts to Paris starts
The government yesterday began sending artefacts to France for an exhibition in Paris.
At least 10 out of 23 boxes of around 200 relics collected from three museums were shipped in the first phase. The rest will be flown soon, said sources.
The exhibition will take place at Guimet Museum in the French capital. The date of the event, however, could not be known.
The government's decision to allow the ancient objects to be on display in France under an agreement signed between the cultural affairs ministry and representatives of the French government has caused a huge public furore.
Eminent citizens, civil society members, cultural activists, and students took to the streets protesting the move.
In response to a writ petition, the High Court on September 17 issued a two-month stay on sending the artefacts out of the country. But later the stay order was vacated by the Supreme Court.
Following the developments in Dhaka, the show originally scheduled for October 23 had been deferred.
Meanwhile, students and cultural activists demonstrated against the shipment in front of the National Museum yesterday. They formed a human chain in Shahbagh area as the staff of Homebound, the company hired to carry the artworks dating back to 1200 years, were getting the boxes onto trucks.
Many gathered there early in the morning hearing that the first batch of artefacts would be sent to Paris yesterday. They chanted slogans when the vehicles carrying those were leaving the National Museum premises in the afternoon.
Police picked up one demonstrator but later released him.
Archaeology experts, artists and citizens have alleged that the deal signed between the two governments is flawed on many counts. It does not give exact number of the artefacts to be sent and their insurance cover, and lacks authentic counter signature and visual documentation, they claimed.
They fear some of those might not even be returned after the display.
However, the government and the French embassy in Dhaka have maintained all along that all issues of concern have been addressed properly and each of those age-old items will be flown back home safe and sound.
The Guimet Museum is a museum of Asian art. It boasts one of the largest collections of Asian art outside Asia.