Three held for stealing Padma awards of Kannada poet

Shivamogga: Three suspects were arrested for allegedly stealing the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan awards, conferred on renowned Kannada poet Kuvempu Venkatappa Puttappa, from his ancestral house at Kuppalli near here, police said on Friday.

"Two of the accused - Revanasiddappa and Anjanappa - are from Davangere district while third is from this district. First is a habitual thief and second is an attendant with Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishtana (trust) since a decade," Shivamogga's Superintendent of Police Ravi D. Channannavar told IANS.

Davangere is about 90km from Shivamogga and about 260 km from Bengaluru. The burglary occurred on Monday when the night watchman went for supper, leaving the mansion unguarded and came to light when he returned.

Located in a picturesque setting near Thirthahalli, 110km from here, in Malnad region, the sprawling tiled house was converted into a memorial museum to preserve and showcase Kuvempu's life for the people, who flock in hundreds daily round the year.

The Jnanpeeth award winning poet passed away on November 11, 1994, a month before turning 90 . The Padma awards were conferred in 1958 and 1988 for his rich contribution to Kannada literature.

"We are yet to recover the twin medals stolen from a glass case that was broken. When asked, the trio, however, said they lost them on way as the hook in the metal clasp gave away," Channannavar said and claimed the medals would be recovered soon as a massive search was on.

Preliminary investigation and interrogation of the trio revealed that Anjanappa, an employee of the trust, which looks after the museum, committed the burglary and Revanasiddappa aided him by keeping a watch.

"Prakash was arrested for paying Rs.10,000 to the main accused (Anjanappa) for other objects, including two metal badges Kuvempu received from Mysore University and the International Institute of Philosophy in 1959," the police officer noted. The badges have been recovered from Prakash.

The accused were tracked down after a footage of surveillance cameras, which captured Anjanappa in the house, was circulated and a hunt was launched across the state by three teams set up to probe the case. Of the 22 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in and around the house, the burglars broke and damaged six of them before escaping.

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