Padma awards of famed Kannada writer stolen

Shivamogga (Karnataka), Nov 25 (IANS) The country’s Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan awards conferred on renowned Kannada poet Kuvempu Venkatappa Puttappa were stolen from his ancestral home at Kuppalli, about 110 km from here in Malnad region, a police official said on Wednesday.

“We have registered a theft case under Sections 457 and 380 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the unidentified offender, whose presence at the poet’s house on Monday night was captured by surveillance cameras,” Shivamogga district Superintendent of Police Ravi Channannavar told IANS.

The Jnanpeeth Award winner poet passed away on November 11, 1994, a month before turning 90 years on December 29, 1994. Padma awards were conferred on him in 1958 and 1988 for his outstanding contribution to Kannada literature.

Located near Thirthahalli, about 370 km from Bengaluru, the poet’s home was converted into a memorial to preserve and showcase his life and belongings for the people who flock in hundreds daily round the year.

“We will soon capture the burglar, as he acted alone in stealing the twin Padma awards, three medals presented by universities and Rs.1,000 in cash from the sprawling bungalow, which appears to have been ransacked, as other belongings lie scattered,” Channannavar said.

After the Kuvempu Pratishtana (trust) filed a complaint on Tuesday, three search teams were formed to hunt down the burglar, who entered the house by removing the clay roof tiles by climbing a ladder.

“We are confident of nabbing the thief as he appears to be a local and familiar with the place, its surroundings and timings of the private security guards employed by the trust, which looks after the house and Kuvempu’s belongings,” Channannavar said.

Police stepped up security by deploying additional personnel in and around the place to guard the heritage property, valued at crores of rupees.

“As the investigation is at an advanced stage, it is premature to give more details at this juncture, as it may hamper the process to arrest him alive,” Channannaver noted.

“Though the accused destroyed six of the 22 cameras fixed in and around the house, he could not escape from the spot before they captured his image,” the police official added.

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