Kolkata, April 27 (IANS) The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has seized an antique 24-kg idol of Lord Vishnu, said to be 500 years old, from West Bengal’s Siliguri when it arrested a man who has to smuggle it to Nepal, an official said on Thursday. Also Read - West Bengal: 13 Dead in Road Accident Due to Fog in Jalpaiguri District

In a joint operation with the Customs Department, personnel of the SSB’s 41st Battalion arrested Bihar-based smuggler Pulkit Rishi, 60, on Wednesday from National Highway-31 near Bagdogra in Siliguri after a tip-off. Also Read - 7th Pay Commission Latest News: Dearness Allowance, Salary Hiked For These State Govt Employees

“The smuggler was carrying a 500-year-old unique idol of Lord Vishnu, estimated worth Rs 45 crore in the antiques market. His arrest lead us to bust a gang of smugglers who specially steal antique idols from temples in Bihar and sell them to Nepal from where they are sent to other foreign countries,” SSB spokesperson Deepak Singh told IANS. Also Read - Will Never Bow My Head Before BJP, Says Mamata Banerjee, Calls Saffron Party More Dangerous Than Maoists

Rishi disclosed that the idol was stolen by him and his accomplice Shiv Shankar Mehta from Tikka Batti temple in Bihar’s Purnia district nearly two months ago and it was to be sold to a Nepal-based antique dealer.

According to the officer, the expert of the Historical Department of North Bengal University has confirmed in thier examination of the idol that it is rare metal sculpture weighing 24.07 kg.

“Purnia police has been informed about the arrest,” said the SSB officer

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.