Officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Monday seized several antiques, including six large stone sculptures, worth crores from a house and godown owned by Vijay Nanda, an American businessman of Indian origin and an alleged smuggler of antiques.
Nanda, who had arrived in the city only recently, was arrested, produced in court and remanded in judicial custody on Tuesday.
Acting on an intelligence input, DRI officials searched Nanda’s residence at Girgaum chowpatty and his godown at Byculla. They found a large stash of old treasures, estimated to be worth crores on the black market. “These co-ordinated searches resulted in the recovery of several antiques and artifacts for which Nanda had no legal documentation or registration as an antique dealer with the Archeological Survey of India (ASI),” said a DRI officer, who did not wish to be named.
Six large stone sculptures stored in crates were seized from the Byculla godown. These included statues of various Hindu deities, such as Varada Ganesha, Padmapani, Awalokateshwara, Standing Vishnu, Naga and Nagini. “These statues are from the 10th and 11th centuries and appear to have been stolen from temples in eastern and southern India. There has been an attempt made to legitimise them through registration with the archaeological survey and creation of fake procurement documents,” said the officer.
Treasures seized from Nanda’s Girgaum house included figurines and stone sculptures. Terracotta figurines from the 1st century and bronze figurines of Mahishasura Mardhini and Ganesha from the 17th and 18th centuries were also seized.
“This is looting of our cultural heritage,” said M Ajit Kumar, principal additional director general of DRI’s Mumbai unit.
The DRI officer said, “Some of the smaller objects have already been examined by the ASI and found to be antiques. The larger ones are also being examined.” The DRI is investigating internationals links to the racket in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, certain European countries and the United States.