Thursday, March 20, 2008

Woman arrested for attempting to sell an antique Mahavir idol

Express news service

Mumbai, February 20 The Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police on Tuesday arrested a woman for trying to sell a Mahavir idol, suspected to be an antique piece, without a licence to deal in antiques.

Experts from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are being consulted to ascertain the age and worth of the piece, the police said.

The woman, Jagruti Atul Shah (48), a garment trader and a resident of Borivli, was trying to pawn the item for Rs 4 crore when she was trapped by the Crime Branch officials at her parent's residence at an apartment complex in Tardeo.

"We do not know the exact age and worth of the idol yet, as an expert from the ASI is yet to give us a report on it. However, investigations are on to ascertain where she sourced the idol from, who else is involved in the case, and whether this is an organised racket in antiques," said Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime, Rakesh Maria.

According to the police, the idol — Mahavir in a standing posture — is approximately 7 inches in height and weighs between 9 and 10 kg. It is made of an alloy of five metals.

"Shah was arrested after we received a tip-off that she was looking for buyers for an antique idol. We communicated with her on the phone, set up a deal and sent a dummy customer before arresting her. We do not know much about the idol, but Shah claims that it is at least three centuries old. She demanded Rs 4 crore within seven days. We have booked her under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act (1972)" said senior police inspector, R Mahale, of Crime Branch Unit 1.

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