Cops stumble on gang of antique thieves
Archis Mohan (New Delhi, May 9)
It was nothing short of divine intervention. ACP L.S. Brar and his team could feel there was something wrong with the Maruti van approaching them at ISBT.
The cops signalled the vehicle to stop. The four men inside the van took out their country-made pistols, but surprisingly did not fire. There was one more surprise in store for the cops -- two gleaming statues of Radha and Krishna in the car.
The ashthadhatu statues were stolen from a remote village in Rajasthan in June last year. Priced at Rs 20 lakh each, the nearly two-feet-tall statues are said to be more than 200 years old.
The North District Police believe they have stumbled upon a huge racket in theft and smuggling of priceless antiques from India's remote villages to rich collectors in big cities and abroad.
The statues, one weighing 20 kg and the other a couple of kg less, were on their way to an antique collector in North Delhi. Investigations revealed the statues were stolen from the Gopinath temple at Mahua village of district Dausa in Rajasthan. Petty thieves had broken the temple locks in the night to steal the statues.
The three men had robbed a Jaipur house, whose owner had found some buried treasure. It had however taken them nearly 10 months to find a "discerning" buyer. "As always, they came to Delhi and got in touch with their associates in Najafgarh and Nangloi - small time criminals who have contacts with big antique collectors," said DCP (North) Sanjay Baniwal.
The police have asked the Archaeological Survey of India to inspect the
statues. "The gold ornaments and Krishna's flute which had diamonds on it
were sold by the three in Delhi," said Baniwal. The police are now trying
to nab the antique dealer, who recently acquired a 1000-year-old
ashthadhatu statue of Buddha and some other antique artifacts recently.