Antique idols worth more than Rs 11 crore seized by customs in Bengal
Six antique idols estimated to be worth more than Rs 11 crore in the black market were seized by customs officials from Islampur in north Bengal on January 28, a top customs official said on Friday. The seizure includes two idols of Vishnu made in the 11th and 12th century AD.
“Acting on specific information we seized six antique idols from a car in Islampur, about 65 km from Siliguri, on Tuesday night. Further investigation is on,” said Rajesh Jindal, commissioner of customs (preventive), West Bengal.
None have been arrested till Friday, said Jindal. After the seizure, customs officials got in touch with experts from the Akshaya Kumar Maitreya Heritage Museum under the North Bengal University.
“Experts at the museum said the idols are all antiques worth about Rs 11.07 crore. We are yet to find out from where the idols were stolen and how the smugglers managed to get hold of them,” said a senior customs official.
The two idols of Vishnu are from the Sena period in Bengal during the 11th and 12th century AD, experts have said. While one is 42 inches high, the other is 25 inches high. Another seized item is a black stone idol which probably dates back to the Gupta period. Two terracotta idols – one of Lord Buddha in Badhapadmaasana posture and another depicting Lord Balaram in his childhood – were also seized. The smallest idol, that of Goddess Parvati with her children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, is carved in black stone.
“The smugglers managed to flee taking advantage of dense fog and darkness. The raid was conducted around 2:30 am,” said a senior official.
Officials said that in 2012 a large consignment of similar antique idols were sized.