3 Antique Smugglers Held in Karnataka

BANGALORE: The Bangalore police on Saturday nabbed three men trying to sell antique idols believed to be from the Chola period.

The Central Crime Branch, which recovered the idols, suspects the gang is connected to an international network. If the idols are genuine, they are at least eight to 10 centuries old, the police said.

“The gang started from Tamil Nadu, went to Chandrapur in Andhra Pradesh, and from there proceeded to Belgaum. They came here in an attempt to find buyers,” said Hemant Nimbalkar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime). The alleged smugglers, identified as Sudhir Shamkumar and Pundalik Kalabhant from Belgaum and Ravi Gangadhar from Maharasthra, are in police custody.

“Following a tip-off, we sent two constables, pretending to be buyers, to Dhanvantri College. The idols were in the car, and the gang asked for `32 crore,” Nimbalkar said.

A team from the Archaeological Survey of India will be asked to assess the idols to confirm their period, value and history. Meanwhile, the CCB is keen to interrogate the arrested men and get to the bottom of the racket, Nimbalkar added.

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