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A UP-born US citizen who runs an antique shop-cum-gallery in New York with smuggled goods is the man the Tamil Nadu CID is hunting for in connection with the theft of 17 antique idols from state temples.

Subhash Kapoor, arrested in Germany in October 2011, is said to be a vital link in an international idol smuggling racket. Apart from centuries-old idols stolen from south Indian temples, he is said to have a few Buddha statues whisked away from Kandahar in Afghanistan.

 On October 30, 2011, when Kapoor landed in Germany to visit an antique handicraft exhibition, immigration officials nabbed him and alerted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CBI had sent out a red corner notice against him with the help of Interpol, saying he was wanted in an idol smuggling case. Sources said the CBI has initiated the process for Kapoor's extradition and has written to the external affairs ministry .

Three men involved in the illegal selling of antique Indian idols were nabbed while trying to sell two idols to a client at Sainik Farms. The racket is spread across five states-West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and the NCR.
One of the statues is of Lord Krishna in a standing position-it weighs 1.10kg and is made of Astadhatu metal, according to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The idol is pegged at over Rs 2.15 crore. The other statue-also of Lord Krishna weighing about 950g and made of Astadhatu metal-is worth Rs 1.75 crore in the international market.
The accused have been identified as Atiar Rehman Sheikh (27), Firoz Sheikh (32), and Abdulla Mandal (39). Police said all the three accused are from West Bengal. They would approach their clients at Sainik Farms and hotels in Gurgaon and clinch the deal.
Sharma said as far as the initial inquiry goes, the idols date back to the pre-British era and most probably have their origins in a Vishnu temple of Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan. “We are seeking the help of experts to locate the place from where these items have been stolen,” she added.


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