Patna: A total of nine people were arrested and a gang of international idol smugglers was busted in Bihar, police said.
At least three precious Ashtadhatu statues, coins of Nepal and Bhutan as well as arms and ammunitions were seized from their possession in Bhagalpur district, the police said.
"We have arrested nine idol smugglers and recovered three Ashtadhatu statues. They were planning to send these idols outside the state," Bhagalpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Vivek Kumar said.
"We are interrogating them to collect more information to catch the main people behind this racket," the officer said.
Last year, Bihar Police decided to conduct speedy trial of antique smugglers and thieves.
The state police have also directed SPs to prepare dossier of such cases, identify accused involved and arrest them immediately.
The SPs have been asked to send information about the theft of antique idols in the last five years in their districts to the police headquarters, the police said.
According to the police data, 30 idols of Hindu deities were stolen in 2011, 62 idols in 2012, and 65 in 2013.
In 2014, about two dozen thefts were reported and in 2015 over 20 idols were stolen.
Many cases of stolen idols were never reported to the police because of a lack of knowledge of their value in international market.
Most of the stolen idols were of Ashtadhatu -- an alloy of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead and other metals -- and were valued at crores of rupees in the international market, the police officials said.