Bihar to conduct speedy trial of idol sumugglers

Patna, Dec 18 (IANS) Having made an arrest earlier this month in the theft of a 600 BC Mahavira idol, Bihar police said on Friday it will ask for speedy trial of antique smugglers and thieves.

“Bihar police headquarters has sent an order to all district superintendents of police (SPs) to conduct speedy trial of antique smugglers and thieves involved in cases of theft of precious idols” a top police official said here.

The state police has also directed SPs to prepare dossier of such cases and identify accused involved and arrest them immediately. They have been asked to send information about the theft of antique idols in the last five years in their districts to the police headquarters.

The state government has already decided to seek CBI’s help in cases of thefts where national or international gangs are suspected to be involved.

On December 9, the police had announced the arrest of a “prime suspect” from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh in the case of theft of a 600 BC idol of Mahavira which was stolen from a temple in Jamui district on November 27.

The black stone idol, weighing some 250 kg, was recovered from a field in the same district nine days after it was stolen.

Ancient idols of Mahavira, Buddha and Hindu deities have become a soft target of antique smugglers in Bihar as nearly 200 such idols have been stolen in the state in last five years.

According to the police data, 30 idols of Hindu deities were stolen in 2011, 62 idols in 2012, and 65 in 2013. In 2014, about two dozen thefts were reported. This year’s figure a about a dozen so far.

Many cases of stolen idols have never been reported to the police because of a lack of knowledge of their value in international markets.

Most of the stolen idols were of ashtadhatu – an alloy of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead and other metals – and were valued in crores of rupees in the international market, police officials said.

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