400-year-old Qur'an seized from peddlers

10-member gang was trying to sell scripture at Rs 5 crore
Last Updated 11 August 2015, 20:53 IST

A copy of the Qur’an said to belong to early 17th century has been seized by the police from suspected antique peddlers in Mysuru district.

The text of the Qur’an is in golden ink and the pages are decorated with floral designs. Police seized the Qur’an after seeing a video being circulated by the suspects to a prospective buyer a week ago. The suspects had sourced the Qur’an from Hyderabad and were well aware of its antique value. They had fixed a whopping Rs five crore price on it.

The copy had changed many hands and the suspects came down to Saligrama town in Mysuru district in search of prospective buyers. Police got the video through an informer and decided to lay a trap. Accordingly, two policemen in the guise of prospective buyers approached some members of the gang who were moving in a car near Hosa Agrahara railway station off Saligrama around 8 pm on Monday.

n the car and arrested the suspects. The other members of the gang were arrested based on the information provided by them, said Mysuru SP, Abhinav Khare.

B Sheik Ali, former vice-chancellor of Mangalore and Goa universities, who helped the police ascertain the antique value of the copy, was visibly bowled over by the calligraphy of the scripture. “It is extraordinary, invaluable and a showpiece. Such is the deft work that the calligraphy has remained intact,” he said. 

Dating back to 1605 AD

Explaining the significance of the scripture, Ali, who is a historian, said: “The last page is inscribed as ‘AH’, possibly dating the scripture to 1050 (1605 AD) according to the lunar (Islamic) calendar. It was when Jahangir ascended the Mughal throne.”

Asked whether it was the golden ink or the pages (the pages are in golden colour while the ink is black), Ali noted: “The Mughals were adept at converting base metals to noble metals and the scripture could be a result of that. Such colours could be seen in the Red Fort, Delhi.”

He continued: “The copy could be one of the oldest in India as the last such scripture of antique value I saw was in a museum in Turkey. It belonged to the period of Prophet Muhammed.”

Mysuru South DySP Amate Vikram said a phrase was jotted down on the cover of the Qur’an, ‘Buzargane Rava’, which possibly means ‘Dedicated to contemporary saints or God’.

The gang

The suspects have been identified as Nagaraju, 39, A Muralikrishna, 30, both from Sindhanur in Raichur district, Kanakappa Kambali, 40, from Ron in Gadag district, Kallappa Kambali, 54, an SDA clerk in the Food and Civil Supplies department at Kalaburagi, Sanath, 27, Ravindra, 33, Raghu alias Raghavendra, all from Udupi district, Vijayendra, 30, Prasad, 43, both from Shivamogga district, and Bhaskar M, 31, from Doddaballapur, Bengaluru Rural. The gang members were new to each other and it was only after procuring the copy did they come together to mint money out of it, the SP said.

The copy would be handed over to the Karnataka State Archives Department for further study, after obtaining the court’s permission. The SP refused to give more details, saying it may hamper the investigation.

(Published 11 August 2015, 20:53 IST)

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