Updated: March 27, 2021 9:27:22 am
DAYS AFTER two stone statues of the Buddha were stolen from a recently excavated monastery – believed to be at least 900 years old – in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district, police have arrested five persons from Ranchi for the theft and recovered the statues.
The police said all five accused conducted a recce at the excavation site in Bahoranpur village in Hazaribagh on March 3, zeroing in on the two statues. On March 21, the statues went missing, according to ASI Patna’s Superintending Archaeologist Rajendra Dehuri’s complaint. On the basis of the complaint, an FIR was registered.
Hazaribagh SP Karthik S said: “We scanned CCTV footage, mounted technical surveillance and questioned one Kumar Sujit of Ranchi. It led us to the other accused and the recovery of the stolen statues.” There arrests were made on Thursday.
The police said another accused, Sanjay Aggarwal, who claims to be Ayurvedic medicines seller, and Kumar Sujit came to know of the statues from newspapers and “hatched a plan to sell those in black market at high prices”.
The police said after conducting the recce, the accused assembled on the intervening night of March 20 and 21 at the site. “They took away two 1.5-foot Buddha statues and fled on motorbikes to Hazaribagh bus stand from where they took a bus to Ranchi. They had planned to sell the statues after the hunt cooled down,” a police source said.
The ASI had discovered the monastery at Burhani village in February, excavating 10 stone statues of the Buddha and Tara. It also found a portable image which appeared to be that of Shaivite deity Maheswari – indicating cultural assimilation in the area. ASI officials had said the monastery was a “big find” — it is on the old route to Varanasi, 10 km from Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon. They said the presence of Tara’s statues showed the possible proliferation of the Vajrayana form of Buddhism in Jharkhand.
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