Fake Tagore net widens

George Varguis, the husband of the suspended principal of the Government College of Art and Craft, Dipali Bhattacharya, has been included as an accused in the case related to the exhibition of alleged fake Tagore paintings.

"George Varguis's name has been included in the FIR after a probe suggested his involvement in the exhibition of fake Tagores. The former mathematics teacher is now a prime suspect," said an officer of the CID, which has recently taken over the probe.

Earlier, three persons had been named in the FIR: Dipali, painter Jogen Chowdhury and Jayanta Banerjee, a Dhanbad-based businessman from whom, according to the suspended principal, the paintings had been taken for the art college exhibition from February 27 to March 8, 2011.

A high court-ordered study by the Archaeological Survey of India found all 20 paintings exhibited at the Chowringhee institution on the occasion of Tagore's 150th birth centenary fake.

During a hearing in the high court, lawyer Jaidip Kar, appearing on behalf of Chowdhury, said his client had owned one of the 20 paintings and had no idea that it was a fake.

The police raided Banerjee's Dhanbad house on Friday but could not find him. "His son and daughter-in-law told us that he had left home 10 days ago and had not yet returned. We suspect he is on the run," said the CID officer.

The sleuths have apparently recorded the statement of a Visva-Bharati professor, who said he had warned Dipali against holding the exhibition as he had pronounced the paintings fake.

"The former principal ignored the advice," the official said.

The CID suspects the involvement of several other people in the racket.

The high court is hearing the anticipatory bail plea of Dipali.

The case will come up next on November 16.