Colombo National Museum broken into: Many priceless artifacts stolen



By Saman Gamage


Many priceless artifacts belonging to the Kandyan period were stolen from the Colombo National Museum in a shocking nocturnal break-in by intruders on Friday, police said.


Amongst the articles of immense archaeological value taken away by the thieves were several gold swords of the Kandyan era, rings, a royal walking stick, gold coins and an upper costume made of gold, it has been revealed.


The intruders had scaled the wall on the left of the Museum complex either to gain access to the balcony or leave the upper floor. The Museum had closed around 6.30 pm on Friday and it was when workers were opening the doors yesterday morning for public viewing that they noticed the missing artifacts. The Cinnamon gardens police had then been alerted.


The CID has also been detailed to probe the theft of the priceless articles, police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana told journalists at the scene. Sleuths dusted for fingerprint while police sniffer dogs were also used as a full-scale investigation was launched.


Police were baffled by the break-in as the Museum had a team of private security officers and also CCTV cameras.Police took charge of the footage. However, an employee said yesterday that the CCTV camera in the section where the theft took place had packed up about two days before the incident.


When asked, the National Museum’s director-general, Dr. Nanda Wickremasinghe dismissed the claim saying at the close circuit cameras were in working order.


This was the second theft at the National Museum – the first being about two decades ago when a gold Buddha statue went missing, she said. "The Museum will remain closed today as police investigations continue".


Journalists who visited the scene to cover the theft were hassled and kept standing outside for hours to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate duties by the management of the Museum. On the director-general’s instructions, two employees were assigned to close the main gate with strict instructions not to allow access to any journalist.


Journalists expressed displeasure over this move which constituted an attempt to keep the people in the country in the dark when the country’s premier National Museum had been broken into and priceless artifacts stolen.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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