38, Issue # 97 - December 26, 2002
Thanks to our ever vigilant readers for pointing out that the name of G Madan Mohan Das, a member of PCI Governing Council and the national commissioner to PHILAKOREA 2002 world stamp exhibition, who was detained on August 13, 2002 by the Customs at the Chennai Airport was left out in the Part 38 of this column in the previous issue.
We think it is a good opportunity to revisit the story of Das. PCI Governing Council appointed Das as the national commissioner for PHILAKOREA 02 on April 28, 2002. However Das, with the blessings of those who control PCI, was acting as the national commissioner for PHILAKOREA 02 for over one year before that date.
Yours truly have personally been obtaining the Temporary Export Permit (TEP) from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for majority of national commissioners in the last decade. On two occasions once in 1996 and another in 2000 this entailed obtaining a waiver of Government of India procedures and guidelines under which it was impossible for any exhibit to be sent abroad for participation. Yours truly has freely shared his knowledge and experience and trained several other local philatelists in this work. This is a thankless job and we have spent our own money (even for long distance calling to the national commissioner), time and energy for a good cause. The persons who control the PCI reward their favorites financially by paying from PCI funds or allowing them to charge any amount from the exhibitors on account of obtaining ASI's permit. Yours truly have neither claimed nor accepted any funds on this account.
The officers and the staff of the ASI have always cooperated by accepting our applications at the last minute instead of stipulated 2 months before deadline and processing the same by sitting late hours.
Das wrote scores of letters in 2001 and early 2002 to India Post, PCI Secretary General - Dilip Shah, PCI President - S Sahoo, and to yours truly exhorting every one to obtain for him all the necessary permissions from various departments of the Government, including the TEP from the ASI.
Das visited Delhi in March 2002 and acknowledged the help by yours truly in his letter of March 25, 2002 to PCI President. But something drastically changed between end April and end June 2002 and Das filed his application belatedly through another person with ASI.
However we still remained involved with this case as Das and his masters refused to carry the only Gold medal exhibit and communicated as such to ASI. And this particular exhibitor asked us to represent his case that we successfully did by obtaining a separate permit for him.
We wrote on July 11, 2002 to Das with a copy for information and necessary action to PCI President - S Sahoo, both by Speed Post at our own cost. Here is the complete text of that letter:
"Dear Mr. Das:
I understand that the exhibits of Mr. B K Sinha and Mr. D C Sharma participating in PHILAKOREA 2002 include antiquities. I request you to please include the above in your application to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for grant of a Temporary Export Permit (TEP) in order to avoid the confiscation of exhibits and other penalties under Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972.
Mr. Ajay Kumar Mittal as National Commissioner for PHILANIPPON 2001 did not include the exhibit of Mr. A M Mollah that contained antiquities. Mr. Dilip Shah carried that exhibit to Tokyo without TEP from ASI. This is now part of ongoing investigations against Mr. Shah by the CBI.
Let us learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them.
With warm personal regards,
We spoke at length to Sinha, again at our own cost, about this. He then tried to include his exhibit for the ASI clearance and requested his mentor and PCI President to intervene on his behalf with ASI and issue him a separate TEP or to add his name in the application made by Das. The PCI President obliged Sinha. Yours truly attempted to contact D C Sharma but he did not respond to calls and we later learned that he was advised not to talk to us.
Finally Das carried 10 exhibits to Korea that contained antiquities and thus requiring the TEP from the ASI. Das however obtained the Permit in respect of only 7 exhibits and carried 3 without the Permit.
At Seoul we found to our horror that there were antiquities in two other exhibits as well and Das had carried these without the necessary ASI permit. We also noticed the crude attempt by Sharma in his exhibit to camouflage the antiquities by pasting small white slips on the dates in the write-up. These violations by Das were discussed with several persons including other Indians at PHILAKOREA.
Das was detained while returning from Seoul on August 13, 2002 by the Customs at the Chennai Airport for violations under Antiquities & Art Treasures Act.
Das was able to go home after about 24 hours at the airport leaving behind all the exhibits in the custody of the customs. The exhibits are still with the authorities after four months and it is not known when these will be released. It also not known the steps the PCI has taken, if any, in this direction.