The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seized relics find home

Cooch Behar, Jan. 25: Twelve valuable antique statuettes seized by the Customs found a place at the palace museum here today.

'This is a Republic Day gift for the people of Cooch Behar and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),' said superintendent of the Naxalbari division of the Customs, K.N. Lama. The officer, along with six of his colleagues, drove down with the statuettes ' seized while being smuggled either out of the country, or into it ' from their Naxalbari godown today and handed them over to the ASI officials at the palace.

Most of the idols are those of the Buddha or Hindu gods and goddesses and their antique value is worth Rs 16 lakh, Lama said. The most valuable of the lot is a many-armed, badly-damaged, unidentified stone statuette. All the statues are from the 9th century AD or even older.

Among the 12, three are statuettes of the Buddha, seized on November 19, 2003, from Darjeeling. Their combined worth is Rs 2.8 lakh. Customs sources said antiques seized from the region are first taken to the history department of North Bengal University. They are then sent to the ASI office in Calcutta for verification and authentication.

Bimal Bandyopadhyay, superintending archaeologist, said over phone from Calcutta that the statuettes will be soon put on display at the palace museum.

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