Sale of antique cannon lands 3 in police net

Oct 03, 2012, 06:40 IST | Vinay Dalvi and Kainaz Choksey

One of the accused, who owns the object, claims his ancestors were royals from Rajasthan; cops say the relic cannot be sold without government authorisation

It’s 350 years old, weighs 25 kilograms and is made of ashtadhatu (amalgam of eight metals), sources say. But what interested three men — now in the custody of Dharavi police — most was that this antique cannon could fetch them Rs 65 lakh.

A police officer holds up the antique cannon
Going great guns: A police officer holds up the antique cannon recovered from three persons in Dharavi. Pic/Sunil Tiwari

Cops nabbed them with the relic after getting a tip-off about the trio arriving at the T-junction in the shantytown.

The accused have been identified as Surendra alias Sanjay Bansilal Gupta (45) – a resident of Versova –, Vijendra alias Vijay Ramkumar Chauhan (32) from Jogeshwari, and Pratapsingh Palsingh (52) – a resident of Lokhandwala.

“They were carrying the cannon in a black bag when we apprehended them,” said Prabhakar Satam, assistant commissioner of police, Kurla Division. Cops have booked the three under section 3 (25) of Indian Arms Act, and section 5(25) of Antiquities and Art Treasures Act. The golden yellow cannon is 20.5 inches long and has a 3-cm long hollow barrel. It, however, cannot be used for firing purposes. The accused have claimed the big gun was employed in the last war of Panipat.

“We have arrested them as they were trying to sell an ammunition illegally and you need permission under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act to market such an object,” said deputy commissioner of police (zone V), Dhananjay Kulkarni.

Through investigations police have learnt that Pratapsingh is a resident of Madhya Pradesh and descendant of a royal family from Rajasthan. He has declared before cops that his great-grandfather was a king. “Pratapsingh has a stone-cutting unit in Madhya Pradesh. His daughter is a law student, and his son a budding cricketer. Vijay works at the residence of Pratapsingh and when he came to know about this cannon he proposed to his employer that they sell it with the help of Surendra,” said Satam.

Pratapsingh has 700 acres of farmland in Madhya Pradesh and has claimed he had more weapons at his residence there that were seized by the state government. Dharavi cops now want to get a forensic examination of the antique done and also intend to approach Archaeological Survey Of India. 

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