Shivamogga: The prestigious Padma Vibhushan Award conferred on the State’s iconic poet Kuppalli Venkatappa Puttappa (Kuvempu) will be lost forever at his house-turned-museum at Kuppalli in Shivamogga district.
Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, conferred on poet laureate in 1988 was stolen on November 23 in 2015 from the museum that is being maintained by Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishtana. The Pratishtana had appealed to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for a replica of the medal and now the Ministry has turned down the appeal.
Confirming this, Pratishtana Secretary Kadidal Prakash said, “The officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs have sent a letter to the Pratishtana saying the replica of the Padma Vibhushan or any civilian award presented by the President of India cannot be given when the recipient is not alive.
The appeal could have been considered, if it had come from the recipient himself. “It is disappointing, but the Pratishtana is helpless in this regard. Getting a replica of the medal created is against the law. So, we dropped the idea of asking an artist to create a replica.”
The Padma Vibhushan medal had been on display along with other awards such as Padma Bhushan (1958), Karnataka Ratna (1992) and Jnanpith (1967) at the museum, since 2001. But the medal was taken away from the attic of the house-turned-museum of the poet at Kuppalli on November 23, 2015.
Revanasiddappa alias Kayakada Revanna of Turachaghatta village in Davanagere district, the prime suspect who was arrested, had told the Police during interrogation that he might have lost the medal in the forest while fleeing from the museum after stealing it. Along with Revanasiddappa, Anjanappa, an attender at the museum and Prakash of Mandarahalli, a receiver of stolen property were also arrested.
The then Superintendent of Police of Shivamogga Ravi D. Channannavar (who is now the SP of Mysuru) had ordered for a search operation in and around Kuppalli. In spite of conducting the search operation extensively, the Police could not find it.
Kuvempu died in 1994 and the Prathistana had developed his house as ‘Kavishaila,’ which is now a major attraction for literature students in the State.