– RAJENDRA NATH
NEPALGUNJ, FEB 05 – Police arrested seven people, including two women, in possession of ancient statue of Lord Buddha believed to be around 300 years old, from Banke on Thursday.
The arrestees are Chhetra Bahadur BC, 36, of Salyan; Shiva Singh, 22, of Jajarkot; Nabaraj Yogi, 24, and Padma Chaudhary, 29, of Banke; Jit Prasad Chaurel, 28, and Laxmi, 24, of Okhaldhunga and Bikash Shahi, 26, of Humla. They had been staying at a Agaiya Bazaar-based hotel in Kachanapur-1 since January 27.
As per the statement of the arrestees, a police team from Area Police Office in Kohalpur recovered the idol from an animal shed belonging to Gurulal Chaudhary at Baijapur-2 in the district. The statue is 10 inches tall, 8 inches wide and weighs 11.89 kilograms.
Police suspect that the smugglers hid the idol in the shed in order to smuggle it to India through Nepalgunj border point. Police claimed the arrestees are members of an organised group of smugglers. “Preliminary probe shows that the arrestees are involved in idol smuggling. Further investigation is under way,” said a police officer involved in the investigation.
“We kept them under surveillance as they, hailing from various districts, were found living in the cottage for days in suspicious circumstances. During interrogation, it was revealed that they were involved in stealing and smuggling ancient statues,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Janak Shahi said, adding that they told police that they purchased the statue from Dolpa-based businessman Badal Thapa for