The Gurgaon police has busted a gang involved in stealing precious idols from Jain temples across the country, including the city. Some of the stolen ‘ashtadhatu’ (alloy of eight metals) idols are believed to be more than a century old and worth crores of rupees in the international grey market, the police said.
Three persons, including a Ghaziabad-based scrap dealer, were held on Monday. Two of the arrested gang members were identified as Sagar Choudhary and Saiful, both from West Bengal. The scrap dealer from Ghaziabad has been identified as Mohhamad Irsad. He had bought a stolen silver umbrella from the accused for Rs. 50,000.
The police said it is a seven-member gang and five of the members, including the mastermind, are still at large, the police said on Tuesday. The absconding members are from Bangladesh.
As many as 25 Lord Mahavir idols, believed to be worth a total of Rs. 4 crore, have been recovered from Ghaziabad and Faridabad on information given by the arrested persons.
The gang had stolen 46 idols from a Jain temple at Seikhopur in Gurgaon in December 2014, the police said. Their latest heist was at a Jain temple in Sikar, Rajasthan, on December 15, 2015, the police said.
According to the police, the two gang members were arrested by the Sikar police investigating the December 15 theft.
During interrogation, the accused revealed the names of the other gang members. They also confessed that it was their gang that had carried out the December 2014 heist in Gurgaon.
The Rajasthan police informed their counterparts in Gurgaon who brought the accused to Gurgaon on production remand, the police said.
Based on their interrogation, the Gurgaon police then carried out raids in Ghaziabad and Faridabad and recovered stolen idols.
According to the police, a total of 46 idols, nine silver umbrellas and six ‘charan padukas’ were stolen from the Seikhopur temple. The donation box of the temple was also broken and Rs. 25,000 was stolen from it.
The police said the priest of the temple had told them that he had noticed the theft only on December 30. The priest had lodged a complaint at the Kherki Daula police station. According to him, the stolen idols were made of ‘ashtadhatu’ and were 6 to 10 inches tall.
Police officials said it appeared that the accused had stolen the idols when the priest was not at the temple as there were signs of forced entry into the shrine.
Immediately after the theft was reported at the Gurgaon temple, police commissioner had formed a special investigation team for the probe. The force had also announced a reward of Rs. 1 lakh for any information leading to the arrest of the accused in the case.
Talking about the development, Gurgaon police commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk said, “This was a major challenge for the Gurgaon police as the scale of the crime was huge. We used both technology and human intelligence for the case and also coordinated with the Rajasthan police to crack the case. The remaining members of the gang will be arrested soon.”