Police arrested the three men who tried to sell the cannon for not following Archaeological Survey of India’s rules for sale of antiques. They have now sent the cannon to the ASI to verify its authenticity.
“Prima facie, the cannon appears to be an antique,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner of police (zone 5).
After getting a tip-off about the trio, police officials posed as potential buyers and met the three near T Junction at Dharavi on Monday.
Pratasingh Palsingh demanded Rs1 crore for the cannon, but eventually was willing to sell it of for Rs65 lakh. Police then arrested him and his two accomplices, Sanjay Gupta, 45 and Vijay Rajkumar Chauhan, 32. Chauhan works for Palsingh and is believed to have suggested that the cannon be sold off. Gupta was to be the mediator for the sale.
“One needs a valid licence and must follow the procedures laid down by the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) regarding sale of antiques. The accused were not following these guidelines and were trying to sell off the antique without telling authorities concerned,” said Kulkarni.
Police have booked the three under sections of the Arms Act and the Antiquity and Art Treasurer Act, for not having the licence to carry or sell the cannon.
Pratasingh Palsingh told police that the cannon was left over when his family had to surrender arms after the government abolished privy purses. Police are yet to find out if the family had held on to the cannon intentionally.
“Palsingh owns more than 1,000 acres of land in MP (Madhya Pradesh),” said senior inspector of Dharavi police Ashok Survegandh. He was in the city to get his son treated for leg injuries. His son plays cricket professionally and his daughter is studying law, Survegandh said.
The three were arrested under section 3 of the Arms Act. They have also been booked under sections 5 and 25 of the Antiquity and Art Treasurer Act .