Patna: Bihar Police
have begun a probe into how the gold wrist watch of India's first
President Rajendra Prasad reached Geneva in Switzerland after
being stolen from Patna in 1964, police said Tuesday.
"Police have decided to investigate the case after Rajendra
Prasad's granddaughter Tara Sinha demanded a probe into the
matter," said Patna's Senior Superintendent of Police Alok Kumar.
A case in this connection has also been formally lodged at Patna's
Patliputra police station Monday by Ramjatan Sahay, president of
the Bihar Vidhapeeth.
Deputy Superintendent of Police L.M. Sharma said that police would
investigate the case from all angles. "We will approach everybody
associated with this matter," he said.
Tara Sinha has been campaigning for months to bring back Rajendra
Prasad's watch to India.
In November 2011, when the watch was about to be auctioned by
Sotheby's at Geneva, Sinha urged the president, the prime minister
and the Bihar chief minister to bring the watch back to India. In
a letter to them, she wrote, "We, the grandchildren of Rajendra
Prasad, are extremely shocked to learn that his watch is being
auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva."
Auction house Sotheby's had postponed the sale of the Rolex wrist
watch following a request by Indian authorities to not put it
under the hammer in Geneva.
On Dec 27, 2011, Sinha wrote to the Patna police requesting for a
probe into the case. "We fail to understand how his wrist watch
reached Geneva. The matter must be probed to expose the people
behind it," Sinha said.
The watch, possibly gifted to Prasad on the first Republic Day in
1950, is a Rolex Oyster and is made of pink gold. It has a map of
India and the date of the country becoming a republic inscribed on
it. The watch was stolen from Patna's Sadaqat Ashram in 1964. At
Sotheby's, it was estimated to fetch between US$ 222,000 and
"It is not an ordinary watch, but a gift to the first president on
Republic Day. It is part of our national heritage," says Sinha.
Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar that the centre would take all possible
measures for putting off the auction of the wrist watch in the
"I refer to your (Nitish's) letter regarding the proposed auction
of a Rolex gold watch originally owned by Rajendra Prasad. I share
the concerns you have expressed," Singh said.
"It had been brought to my notice earlier and I had asked the
ministries concerned to take appropriate steps," Singh said in his
letter, adding that the ministries of culture and external affairs
had succeeded in putting off the auction of the watch which was
proposed to be held on November 13.
Singh said he had asked both the ministries to pursue the matter
and be in touch with the family of India's first president.
"Therefore, I assure you that the centre would take all possible
measures in this regard," he added.
Rajendra Prasad was born in 1884 at Ziradei in Bihar's Siwan
district. After serving for 12 years as India's first president
from 1950 to 1962, he retired and was subsequently awarded the
Bharat Ratna, the nation's highest civilian honour.
He spent the last days of his life at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna.
Prasad died in 1963.