CHENNAI:The Economic Offences Wing (idol) on Friday claimed to have busted a gang planning to sell two stolen antique idols, which are believed to be worth over Rs 5 crore in the international market.
One of the four arrested persons, who were staying in a luxury hotel at Nungambakkam, was an employee of a TV news channel working in the non-editorial department.
The idol wing officials said they raided the hotel room based on a tip on Friday.
A Lord Vishnu idol, believed to be stolen from a temple near Sathyamangalam in Erode and a Buddha idol were found in the room.
“They were trying to sell the idols for about Rs 50 lakh, when we managed to track them,” said a police officer.
The one-and-a-half-foot tall Vishnu idol was found to be stolen from a Goddess Kali temple in Dhimbam village near Sathyamangalam.
The origin of the Buddha statue, which was about 12 cm tall, is yet to be traced. Both were made of Panchaloha.
The arrested persons were John, (an ex-army soldier), Siva, Devaraj and Rajesh. John and Siva, both hailing from Bengaluru, had procured the idols from another gang and was trying to sell them to local agents here.
“Rajesh and Devaraj had offered to find buyers for a commission of Rs 15 lakh. Rajesh posed as a journalist when we tried to raid the hotel room and resisted us.
But, later, we found out that he is working in a reception department of a TV news channel and was the son of a retired police sub-inspector. The other two were claiming to be a police officer and lawyer. But all their claims were false,” said the officer.
Besides the idols, the police seized two luxury cars, which had “police” and “lawyer” stickers.
“Devaraj and Rajesh were acting as local brokers for selling the idols while John and Siva had procured the idols from the smugglers and were hoping to find buyers through their local agent,” said a police officer.