The US department of homeland security investigations (HSI) has through the Interpol in Washington sent an urgent letter to the CBI inquiring about two ancient valuable idols currently in the US and set to be auctioned.
But before auction takes place, US authorities want to know if the idols were stolen from India and sold in the international market. The idols are similar in appearance to two idols stolen from India in 2010.
The idols, one of Lord Ganesha and the other, a goddess, are believed to be very old and expected to fetch a very high price if auctioned. In its letter to the CBI, the US authorities have asked whether the artefacts have export permits or were stolen from India. The CBI has sent letters to the police forces across the country, including the Mumbai police, to find out, urgently, if any case has been registered regarding the theft of the two idols.
“If there is a case registered in any police station across the country, the US officials will have to be informed so that they can prevent the release of the artefacts for auction,” a senior police officer said.
The CBI has circulated photos of the idols so that they can be easily identified by the police.
According to a senior CBI official, last year, India extradited Subhash Chandra Kapoor from Germany. An antique dealer, Kapoor allegedly sold several ancient and valuable idols to various art collectors in the US, the UK, Australia, Singapore and other countries. Following a ‘red corner’ notice issued against him by the Interpol, Kapoor was arrested in Germany in 2011.
In fact, according to sources, in July 2012, the US immigration and customs enforcement and the HSI seized several idols from a museum on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York, US. The museum, called ‘Art of the past’, apparently belonged to Kapoor and the value of all the artefacts seized from the museum is believed to be over a $100 million.
“At that time, the Tamil Nadu police had sent a detailed questionnaire to the US authorities seeking information about the seized idols,” the officer said.
Most of the idols which Kapoor allegedly stole date back to the 11th century and belong to the Chola dynasty period, stolen from various temples in Tamil Nadu.