The Mumbai unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has arrested a Delhi-based smuggler and recovered some antique sculptures from him, an official said here on Tuesday. "We intercepted Nityanand Ompal in Delhi and recovered an antique Lord Ganesh sculpture and two other antique head sculptures from him," the official said. Ompal has on the DRI radar for quite some time for his involvement in smuggling of antiques, he said.
"Intelligence was diligently gathered about the syndicate spanning multiple states and about key associates who assisted in stealing antique sculptures from the ruins of temples located in Gwalior, Shivpuri and Ashok Nagar districts of Madhya Pradesh," the official said. He said the searches were conducted at the premises of some of Ompal's associates in Gwalior and Shivpuri districts for recovery of some more antique sculptures stolen by the syndicate.
The sleuths had recovered one antique Brahma sculpture, a sculpture of one panel and few more antique head sculptures during the searches, the official said. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had informed the DRI that the sculptures dated 8th century AD seemed to have been stolen from various archaeological sites in Central India.
The stone sculptures are the ancient heritage of the country and worth crores in the illegal international market. All of these sculptures were procured by Ompal for the purpose of smuggling them out of the country through his contacts, the official said, adding the accused has foreign clients for the antique artifacts. He said the DRI had detained an export consignment of this syndicate and the sculpture it has recovered has been referred to the ASI Expert Committee for determining its antiquity.