16th century idol seized from smugglers

The police have recovered a 16th-century ashtadhatu (a combination of eight metals) idol of Lord Mahavir from reportedly an international antique-smugglers' gang.

Six persons "including a highly connected Nepalese citizen" were arrested after they were trapped by officials of the economic offence unit (EOU) posing as customers.The alleged smugglers were caught red-handed when they tried to sell the 14-kg idol in Patna on Saturday.

Inspector general of police (EOU) Praveen Vasisth described the recovery and arrest of the smugglers involved in the racket as "a major breakthrough".

"Those arrested have confessed to the organised stealing of antique temple idols from Nawada and other parts of Bihar. The antiques were making their way to the markets in the US and Europe,".

Vasisth said the smugglers had valued the idol at a price of over R1 crore but its value in the international markets appeared to be much more.

Official sources said the EOU team, acting on a tip-off, had contacted two members of the gang and negotiated the purchase of the idol.


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