Idol theft racket: Crime Branch STF traces links to Nepal

Bhubaneswar: After recovering two antique ‘Astadhatu’ idols, the Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Crime Branch has now got some vital leads regarding the inter-State idol theft and trafficking racket having links to Nepal. This was revealed during verification of the mobile phone of the accused Sayed Zilnoor, who was arrested from Jadupur area on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar on February 13.

Moreover, the Crime Branch has sought more information regarding the accused and antique idols from NIA, CBI and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Sources said accused Zilnoor was in touch with other criminals from four States involved in the illicit trade. He had shared pictures of antique telescope, ‘naag mani’, several rare ‘rudraksh’ beads and other antique items to several smugglers based in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi through WhatsApp, informed sources.

The STF officials had recovered two idols weighing 18.44 kg and 12.60 kg, respectively from the house of Zilnoor.

“During interrogation, we have found that the accused has links with other criminals based in several States. We are investigating the matter and we have also found links in Nepal,” said former STF IG, Yatindra Koyal.