The Dharavi police have arrested three people who were trying to sell an antique cannon, which they claim is to be 350 years old. One of the accused has stated that he is a scion of a royal family of Madhya Pradesh.
According to the police, Pratasingh Dharamshetar Palsingh, a native of Madhya Pradesh, has informed the cops that he belongs to a royal family. Pratasingh claimed that after the abolition of official recognition of royal families in 1971, they gave away all the antique arms and ammunition to the government and only this cannon remained, which he wanted to sell.
“The accused have been booked under sections of the Arms Act and Antiquity and Art Treasurer Act for not having the license to carry or sell the suspected antique,” said Prabhakar Satam, assistant commissioner of police, Kurla division.
The police will send the cannon to the ASI and Forensic Science Laboratory to confirm the claims of the accused that it is an antique. The police are also trying to investigate when the cannon was last used.
The Dharavi police received a tip-off that the three accused were looking for a customer to sell the antique cannon to on Monday evening. Without possessing a valid license and by not following the procedure issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to sell antiques, nobody is allowed to sell one, said a senior police officer.
“Acting on the tip-off, the police posed as a party to buy the cannon and fixed an appointment with the accused. The police met the trio near T Junction, Dharavi on Monday night,” said deputy commissioner of police, zone 5, Dhananjay Kulkarni.
The police went to meet the trio, who were carrying the cannon along with them, and demanded Rs65 lakh from the cops disguised as potential buyers.
The accused — Sanjay Gupta alias Surendra, 45, Vijay Rajkumar Chauhan alias Vijendra, 32 and Pratasingh — were arrested.
Palsingh has told the police during the interrogation that most of their antique firearms were taken by the government as part of the heritage property, said senior police inspector, Ashok Survegandh.
Pratasingh had come to Mumbai for the treatment of the leg injuries of his son, who is a professional cricket player. Apparently, Pratasingh owns more than 1,000 acre of land in MP, said a police officer. The police suspect that Gupta was acting as a mediator in selling the cannon, while Chauhan gave the idea of selling the cannon to Pratasingh.
The accused have been booked under Section 3 (25) of the Arms Act (whoever sells or transfers any firearm, ammunition or other arms without informing the district magistrate having jurisdiction or the officer in charge) and Sections 5 (antiquities to be sold only under a license) and 25 (if any person exports or attempts to export any antiquity or art treasure is liable for punishment for a term not less than 3 months which may extend to 3 years and with fine).