KATHMANDU, Nepal—Bhesh Dahal, the director general of Nepal’s Department of Archaeology, insists that the only artifact stolen from any of the devastated historical buildings and heritage sites in Kathmandu was a small bell. It may have dated back hundreds of years, but it may also have just been a few years old. There’s no way to tell. What he does know is that the bell was returned by an anonymous citizen activist who says he stopped the thief near Basantapur Durbar Square.
Dahal, a tall man wearing a traditional Dhaka topi hat, holds court in a beat-down, sparse office—plastic covers the office chair behind the desk, and an outdated calendar hangs on the wall—and dismisses outright that there may be other things missing from Nepal’s greatest architectural and historical sites following this past week’s devastating earthquake.
“These are just rumors,” he says. “I have sent officers out for inspection, and we have not found anything lost.”