Antique Lord Mahavira idol seized, two arrested

Two persons have been arrested from Maharani Bagh in south-east Delhi for trying to sell an antique idol of Lord Mahavira, police said on Wednesday.

The estimated worth of the idol is Rs 7.5 crore in the international market. The Mahavira idol’s height is 21.5 centimeters and width  16.5 centimeters. Its origin can be dated back to the 15th Century AD.

“A preliminary opinion obtained from the experts of the Archaeological Survey of India states the idol is antique. The database of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Crime Records Bureau are also being checked to ascertain the source of the idol,” said Sanjay Bhatia, additional deputy commissioner of police (crime).

Shiv Taj Singh, 54, a resident of Begumpur, and Sanjay Kumar, 31, a resident of Neelwal village in Mundka, were arrested after the Crime Branch received a tip-off that two persons were looking for buyers for an antique idol. “We received information that two persons would come near CTC Mall in Maharani Bagh on January 19 to meet potential buyers. At around 5 pm, two persons came in a radio taxi. They were seen waiting for somebody,” he said.

A raiding party closed in and apprehended Shiv and Sanjay when they failed to provide a coherent reason for possessing the idol. In the interrogation, Shiv told police that he was a taxi driver and had received the idol from Moulvi Mohammad Saheed, a resident of Haryana’s Palwal district. Saheed told him that he had stolen an idol from Rajasthan and wanted to sell it at a higher price in the market. He asked Shiv to sell it through his network and promised him a commission of 50 per cent.

Shiv, Sanjay and another accomplice had paid Rs 1.80 lakh to Saheed as token amount before receiving the idol. Shiv had managed to secure a deal of Rs 7.5 crore with a buyer. The deal was to be finalised on January 19 at Maharani Bagh, where they were arrested.

Investigation in the case is under progress. Raids are being carried out to apprehend the others suspected to be involved in the racket.

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