'500-year-old' Lord Vishnu idol worth Rs 45 crore seized from Siliguri

A thriving network of smugglers keeps stealing antique idols from temples in Bihar. They sell them in Nepal from where they are sent to other countries in the East and West, where collectors buy them at very high prices.

In what could be called a significant recovery of antiques, the Central Armed Police Force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) on Wednesday seized a 500-year-old idol of Lord Vishnu, estimated worth Rs 45 crore, from Siliguri. The Historical Department of North Bengal has confirmed the idol as Vaisnava icon.

The SSB today issued a press statement saying, "The idol was dispatched for examination by Historical Department of North Bengal, University of North Bengal. The experts confirmed that the image indicates the prevalence of Chaitanya Vaisnavism in Bengal. The Vaisnava 'Lanchhana' on the forehead of the figure indicates that it is undoubtedly Vaisnava icon."

The SSB had received specific input about the movement of smuggler after which it conducted a joint operation with Customs and apprehended the accused.

During preliminary interrogation, the accused revealed that this idol was stolen by him with the involvement of one of his accomplice from Tikka Batti temple, purnia, Bihar, nearly two months ago.

The SSB said that the accused had contacted dealers of antique in grey market based in Nepal so that this idol could be disposed off to someone willing to pay a good price.

However, before he could materialize the deal with dealers based in Nepal, the accused was intercepted and arrested by the personnel of SSB and Customs while he was on his way to Nepal.

A thriving network of smugglers keeps stealing antique idols from temples in Bihar. They sell them in Nepal from where they are sent to other countries in the East and West, where collectors buy them at very high prices.