Rs.50 mn-worth stolen idols seized in Tamil Nadu

March 25th, 2009 - 6:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 25 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu police Wednesday said they have seized Rs.50 million-worth antique icons stolen from various temples, and busted a gang of idol thieves in the state.
Three members of the gang, including its ringleader S. Ashokan, 44, were remanded to judicial custody Wednesday, G. Thilakavathi, additional director general of police, told reporters.

“This notorious gang that had evaded arrest for over 15 years was captured Tuesday,” Thilakavathi said.

The police said they have recovered from them 12 idols which were about to be exported as artefacts. The seized idols are worth Rs.50 million in the international market, according to the police.

“The modus operandi of the suspects entailed operating an antique showroom that was a rendezvous for both buyers and sellers of stolen icons to strike lucrative deals. We have found that there are as many as 12 warrants pending against the suspects,” Thilakavathi added.

According to police sources, the illicit trade is worth at least Rs.1 billion annually in local currency terms and when sold abroad its value multiplies manifold.

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