The Weekend Leader - Chennai customs seize 400-yr-old Nrityaganapathi idol

Chennai customs seize 400-yr-old Nrityaganapathi idol




The Chennai air cargo customs have seized a Nrityaganapathi idol made of brass and estimated to be around 400 years old. The customs sleuths made the seizure while the idol which is 130 kg in weight was about to be exported from Kancheepuram.

Chief Commissioner of Customs, MVS Choudhary, in a statement said that the idol was not registered with the Archaeological Survey of India under the Antiques and Art Treasures Act. The commissioner said that the idol was sent by the exporter from Chennai to Kancheepuram to get it treated as per the clients' requirements.

Customs also stated that ASI experts had on inspection found the idol belonged to the Vijayanagar-Nayaka period. Customs authorities in the statement said that the idol was the largest seized by the department from Chennai.

The seizure of the Nrityaganapathy idol follows the seizure made on Tuesday by the Tamil Nadu police of Rs 110 crore worth idols from a leading antique shop in Chennai.

The Tamil Nadu police has begun an investigation into the sale of antiques in shops and establishments that deal with antiques. This follows the arrest of two employees of a popular antique shop in Chennai on Tuesday.

The shop, according to police officers, was trying to sell antique idols worth Rs 110 crores and displayed in the store for 'elite' foreign customers.

According to information, a special team of the Idol Wing of the CID police conducted an investigation at Cottage Industries Exposition Pvt ltd following tip-offs. Additional Director General of Police Jayanth Murali ordered the investigation.

Police said that during the search they found antiques including a Nataraja idol that was 1000 years old while several sale documents were also seized from the store. The Trichy Idol wing of the police conducted a raid at the Tanjavur Saga Departmental Stores that was attached to the Cottage Industries Exposition Pvt Ltd and seized an eight-handed idol of Lord Vishnu from the premises and another antique idol that was used in temples in Vietnam.

ADGP Jayanth Murali, while speaking to media persons said, "Our investigation has found that these people bought antiques sold illegally and without any papers. They were conducting this business for the past ten years and selling to foreign clients. The police have found that they were buying these antique idols that were stolen from temples."

The police is on the trail of the antiques that were sold by this shop and has already seized five idols worth Rs 110 crore in the market.

According to senior officers with the Idol wing, there are several such antique sellers in the state without proper papers and the volume of the business would be huge given the seizures from a single shop.

Of late there has been a campaign in Tamil Nadu for retrieval of old temple idols that were stolen and sold to foreign buyers at a premium. The arrest and incarceration of New York-based Subhash Kapoor who was involved in the sale of stolen Indian artifacts has brought to light several incidents of temple thefts for idols and sale of these idols in international markets across the world - IANS

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