The Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths have bust an international idol smuggling racket on Saturday by arresting three persons and recovered three idols belonging to the Chola period. It is estimated that the idols are worth Rs. 32 crore in the international market and police have approached archeological experts for valuing the price of the idols.
The arrested have been identified as Ravi Sharma, 50, a native of Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Pundalik Yellappa Kalbant, 28, and Sudhir Sham Shetty, 38, both native of Belgaum.
According to the police, they had received a tip off that the three had come to the city to meet a potential foreign customer. Based on this information, a police team went near Dhanvantri Ayurvedic Hospital near Majestic, where the accused were meeting their customer. After talks, the trio were set to leave in their car. Meanwhile, the police team surrounded them and arrested them. Three ancient Panchaloha idols were found in their possession.
“The recovered idols belong to the Chola period. Panchaloha idols of two temple dancers and one dancing Shiva have been seized from them. It is estimated that these idols are worth Rs. 32 crore in the international market. We are questioning the accused about how they managed to get the idols and with whom they are dealing,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Hemant Nimbalkar said, adding that the Archaeological Survey of India will determine the exact age and lineage, he added.
A case is registered in Upparpet police station in this connection. Further investigations are on.