SSB, Customs seize statue worth ₹45 cr
The Sashashtra Seema Bal (SSB) along with the Customs recovered an antique Ashtadhatu idol from the Bengal–Bihar border area near Siliguri. The worth of the statue in the international market is around Rs 45 crore.
Based on a specific information, the 41 battalion SSB along with the Customs personnel of Siliguri laid an ambush on the Siliguri-Kishangunj Road and detained one Pulkit Rishi, resident of Purnia district, Bihar along with the statue at around 7.30pm on Tuesday.
"The person who was then arrested was on his way to Nepal to strike a deal with smugglers," stated D K Singh of the SSB. A jeweller confirmed that the statue was an Asthadhatu (combination of eight metals) statue. "Based on international market and previous seizures done by other agencies from different parts of the country, the cost of the statue has been pegged at Rs 45 crore approximately," stated Singh.
The statue was then sent to the History department of the North Bengal Department (NBU) for examination. The History department of the NBU has issued a provisional report signed by Prof Anita Bagchi and F Rahman, Superintendent of Technical AKMH Museum, NBU, after "carefully examining the details of the sculpture".
The statue has a height of 54 cm, width of 23 cm and weighs 24.07 kg. "It is a rare metal sculpture of Gour/Netai. The date of the sculpture would be not earlier than 16th Century AD although it is the firsthand primary evaluation report of the object. Further investigation, minute level inspection will help historical research," stated the report further advising that the statue should be kept in a museum.
Regarding the historical importance of the statue, the report states: "The image indicates the prevalence of Chaitanya Vaisnavism in Bengal. The Vaisnava "Lanchhana" on the forehead of the figure indicates that it is undoubtedly a Vaisnava icon.