Last month a piece of news of counterfeit coins of East India Company was published in the national dailies. The news did not get much importance as it got the space in the page 2 with a single column. But this news must have a social and cultural value. That was the news of counterfeit old coin business of deceivers. Cheating and deceiving has now so many variations that everyone who did go through this news report definitely got astonished. The variations of this deceiving activity might not be a new phenomenon in our country. Maybe one could have noticed this sort of news earlier time. But the news has a clear dimension of variations of forthcoming activities of deceivers in our country.

The news is that some deceivers are engaged in unauthorized business of fake old coins of East India Company. Police arrested the four persons of this racketeer. They were involved in producing counterfeit old coins of East India Company by melting stolen copper wire. They were wont to make counterfeit old coins of East India Company and after that they used to sell it to old coin collectors and some rich people and used to tell them that it had archeological importance. They also told the buyers that they could get handsome money if they resell it further in the home and abroad. The ADC (DB) of Gulshan Division of DMP told all this to the media about this racketeer.

We know archeological objects are the property of states. No matter where it was found and discovered in the geographical area of the country. But smuggling of such items and selling and buying is also going on keeping unnoticed the law enforcing agency and the government. In our country many archeological objects such as old coins of East India Company and and Badshahi (Mughal and princely states) era were kept by the grandmas' in many families and this trend is still going on. Those grandmas used to give these articles to their grand children. In this way some of us turned old coin collectors. Old coins, whether those have archeological importance have to be decided by the government. Sometimes we get the news in the print and electronic media of discovering old copper, silver and gold coins of different times in our history. Most of the cases the coins discovered are from the time of Mughal era and even before that. But some artifacts of ancient Bengal time were found while excavating ponds and construction areas. Those are generally Buddha's and Vishnu's statue. Apart from this many statues related to Snatan Hindu religion in time of different excavations. Those are considered as valuable items of archeological importance.

Maybe many racketeers and deceivers are very active in our country to sell and purchase those items. Sometimes police and law enforcing agencies arrest them to foil their initiatives. Capitalizing the attraction of collecting the old coins of some coin collectors the deceivers want to be involved in this unauthorized business. Even they have prime initiatives to sell it to the rich people tempting them to purchase these and tell them that they can also resell it again with high price. This unauthorized and informal business maybe is going on in our country. The law enforcing agencies have to take steps to stop these sorts of activities.

Ancient old coins and ancient artifacts are very much related to our history. We could come to know and assess many events of our thousand year's history from those ancient coins and artifacts. Internationally, the informal selling and buying old coins and artifacts is going on. Many artifacts, coins, medals and ornaments were stolen from many museums in the present world. We also came to know that occupied German force looted valuable paintings, artifacts from the museums of Paris. They sent these to German capital Berlin. The famous Hollywood movie 'The Train' is the story of looting of such painting and artifacts from French capital Paris. In this regard we can refer the famous diamond 'Kohinoor'. This Kohiinoor is now in the hand of Great Britain and now it is fixed with the crown of British queen. We also heard the news that the government of India tries to get back the Kohinoor diamond from Great Britain, Recently, a couple of years back, the Noble medal of Rabindranath Tagore was stolen from Shantineketan. Still now the Indian law enforcing agencies could not find out that stolen Nobel medal of poet Rabindranath Tagore. With all these stories and events say that old coin, paintings; artifacts have a big demand in international arena. But all these activities are not permitted by the law of the countries of the world. Every country of the world is very much sensitive regarding the objects of historical importance. In the second Gulf war time Iraq was defeated by USA and its allies. After the fall of Bagdad, the museum of Bagdad was looted, destroyed and many artifacts were stolen in that time. It is reported that present Iraqi government is now trying to get back those from the foreign countries which once was the property of Bagdad museum.

We also know that our people are very much sensitive about our historical objects. In this regard we can refer the incident of Louvre museum. In 2008 an Adviser of the then government had to resign as there was an initiative of the then government to send some artifacts to Louvre museum from Bangladesh National Museum for displaying those at the Louvre museum in Paris. But the People especially from cultural arena protested such initiatives. And ultimately that initiative stopped for the protest of the people and ultimately the Adviser in charge of culture and education had to resign from his office.

So now it is clear and open secret that unauthorized business of old coins and artifacts which have historical importance is going on in the country and abroad. Taking chances and capitalizing the longings of coin collectors the deceivers produce fake old and ancient coins and sell it to them with high price. In this way deceivers make themselves solvent illegally. Many people think that deceivers are very active in the villages surrounding the Capital especially in Savar area. There are some villages in Savar area where different kinds of imitation ornaments of nickel/copper/bronze are being produced. Maybe deceivers are active in those areas. In addition cross-border smuggling stolen artifacts goes on. Sometimes we get this sort of news in the print and electronic media. So to preserve and protect the historical objects the law enforcing agencies should take special attention for such incidents happening time to time in our country.

Dr. Syed Nesar Ahmad Rumy, Former Civil Servant and Freelancer

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