KOLKATA: Seizures of antique artefacts over the last one month at the city airport has put the focus back on a smuggling racket operating across the state.
The fact that is worrying the cops is that the smuggling rackets are using Kolkata not merely as a transit point, but are sourcing artefacts from temples and old houses in the state. According to police, the latest seizures point towards antiques being stolen from some temple in Bankura.
The issue of cross-country smuggling came to surface in October when Jitendra Gupta(22), a Gorakhpur resident was arrested on his flight to Bangkok while trying to smuggle out valuable artefacts. The seizure included 16 wooden and 33 metal statuettes and a metal bowl.Upon interrogating Gupta customs officials came to know that he was working with a gang procuring artefacts from Bankura. Immediately after the seizure officials from the Archaeological Survey of India certified about their antiquity .
An ASI official said that the team working on deciphering age of the artefacts found most of them to be more than 100 years old.
Among the seized artefacts are four heads of horses, long bowl-like structures, deer heads and doll-like structures emulating tribal motifs. Hours after Gupta was arrested customs officials arrested his aide Shribash Paul. Interrogation of Paul has revealed the details of the gang procuring artefacts from Bankura. What has surprised officials are some of the names which have surfaced were arrested by Bidhannagar Police earlier this year.
According to customs officials, carrying antiques is not a crime. But the person who is carrying an artefact will have to declare the content beforehand. Even if the passenger is not carrying an invoice, he will have to provide details of the artefact.
There are certain items, which are considered as banned and cannot be taken out of the country.