Ruckus over a stolen bag

Dhaka,  Sat,  23 September 2017
Published : 27 Nov 2016, 20:52:08

Ruckus over a stolen bag

Neil Ray
The furore over a handbag when it went missing and the bonhomie following its recovery cannot give but a mixed feeling. In the first place it was a stupendous shame for the nation because the incident of theft took place on an auspicious occasion involving a foreign envoy and at as prestigious a venue as the Faculty of Fine Art, the University of Dhaka. The Netherlands' Ambassador, Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, was the chief guest at the launch of a photographic exhibition there. Her bag went missing when she stood up to light the candle leaving it on her chair. 

How daring of a thief who could take the split second opportunity to perfect his dubious operation! But one wonders how a man of his standing could get so close to a dignitary like an ambassador. Does it not point to some lapses on the part of the organisers of the exhibition? At a time when the country is yet to recover from the Holey Artisan extremist attack, leaving an opportunity for a thief to be in close proximity with a foreign ambassador is an open invitation to danger. It smacks of outrageous indifference to security of foreign dignitaries. What if it was not a thief but an extremist of the Holey Artisan attacker mould!

If it was a sort of national disgrace, the intelligence branches of the police came to restore some of the country's dignity. Promptly did they get into the act of looking for the stolen handbag and the thief. On Wednesday, two days after the incident of theft in public, they recovered the two cell phones, an i-Pad, passport and other valuable documents along with the bag. Only the money was missing, though. 

The arrest of the main culprit and his patron, a shopkeeper at  the city's posh Basundhara mall, along with the recovery of the stolen articles has not at least allowed the nation to sink into total disgrace. If that is a saving grace, the incident should give some genuine cause for retrospection. When an ambassador's bag can go missing like this from a high-profile function, the weakness in groundwork for security arrangement is all too evident. It should be a lesson for future such occasions involving foreign dignitaries. Or else, the organisers and even the nation may have to rue over the hole left open for notorious elements to strike. 

Gone are the days when people could be trusted for their innocence and goodness. Now no more! It appears the Dutch ambassador's bursting into tears was not so much for the losses of valuables but for the important information, addresses and documents pertaining to her official position and function. Her shock and disbelief at the discovery of loss was so overwhelming that she could not hold her composure. It was a nightmare she had gone through before her bag was returned. The ambassador profusely thanked the police, the government and all others involved with the recovery of her articles. 

She has done what she felt was appropriate. But don't we as a nation have an apology to seek from her? No civilised society feel at ease when something disgraceful of this order occurs. The Dutch ambassador was subjected to mental agony on account of a petty but highly scheming thief. His accomplice or patron at the Basundhara mall is no less responsible for this disgraceful incident. He has a dubious record of purchasing such stolen articles from the thief. A trader of cell phone at such a place needed to display a better ethical judgment. It is on their account, the nation now stands accused in the eyes of foreigners. The stolen goods have been recovered but the black mark or the scandal will not get erased so easily.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.
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