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Munger/Bhagalpur : Arresting of one Ghantu Mahaton and subsequently recovery of stolen idols dated back to later half of Gupta period from his possession by Munger police has generated a fresh hope for recovery of such other stolen idols from different parts of Bhagalpur earlier. Munger police claimed the arrested person as an active smuggler of such rare antiques and his involvement with such illegal networks many not be ruled over.
Police sources from Munger said that three-century-old antiques, including idols of Lord Mahavira, Lord Buddha and Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati, were recovered from the house of one Ghantu in Sitakund Dih village under the Muffasil police station area on Saturday. The sources further apprehended that an interstate gang involved in the smuggling of antiques which they claimed lead to bust soon after the arrest of Ghantu. The three precious antiques seized by police are all made of solid black stones which are claimed to be from later half of Gupata period.
During police interrogation , Ghantu, a resident of village Urain under Kajra police station area in Lakhisarai district admitted that he uses to run the gang of the smugglers and also disclosed before the police that each antique would fetch anything between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 50 lakh in other states where foreign agents were active to buy them. “Ghantu used to sell these antiques in Karnataka and Delhi,” the source claimed . Mantu Yadav and Tikru Chaudhary of Lakhisarai district, suspected to be involved in the racket, managed to escape from the clutches of police during police raids. Police however informed director of the state archaeological department about the seizures and requested to visit Munger for examining the antiques.
The bursting of the racket however generates much hopes for solving the mysterious thefts of series of such antiques mainly the old idols. “Bhagalpur along with other districts in Eastern parts of Bihar has historically importance where such old antiques or the old idols found in abandon. There are many such cases of stolen idols even in recent past and we suspect some well established gangs of smugglers having international links have been active in this region since long,” said Arbindo Sinha Roy, a team member of directorate, state archeological department, Patna who has been campaigning here in search identifying the places of archeological importance.
Such claims of Sinha Roy have relevancy as recently on March 27 an idol of Gautama Buddha was stolen from Olpura temple under Ghogha PS in Bhagalpur. “Hardly a week before the incident, we visited Olpura with the state archeological team headed by Sinha Roy. The idol, in Vhumisparsha Mudra (Buddha touching the ground) dated back later half of Gupta period was unique for its artistic touch of that golden era in the history of this country. It was recovered from a pond earlier located in the middle of the village. It waskept inside the village temple along with other idols which found earlier from the village,” told Siv Shankar Singh Parijat and Prof. Raman Sinha. The duo, Parijat and Sinha has been conducting research to ascertain the original birth place of noted Buddhist monk-cum- noted scholar of Vikramshila Buddha Mahavihara (the ancient World University at Bhagalpur) Acharya Dipankar Srigyana Atisha and concentrated on Olpura for their research.
Earlier there are dozens of such incidents reported from Bhagalpur and its adjourning districts when such precious old idols mostly from the temples were stolen. In most of the case police even closed down cases in lack of any substantial evidences or lack of proper investigation. However, recently Bhagalpur police managed to recovered the stolen idols of Radha-Krishna but no progress has so far been done by the police to establish the facts behinds such incidents.
“It’s very unfortunate that people don’t know the values of such old idols both in terms of money and its’ historical significances. Secondly, the administration mostly remains careless towards such antique valued items. In Sultanganj some illegal construction is going on and many including the state archeological department has raised its strong objection because such construction works gradually destroying the edifices inscribed on the hills there where the temple of Lord Ajgaivinath is located. The places which either protected by archeological survey of India (ASI) or the state archeological department don’t have adequate manpower to put such items or places under strict vigil, resulting increase in such incidents,” alleged Kumar Uttam, a resident here at Bhagalpur.