Found: gold tiffin box stolen from museum

Police on Tuesday cracked the Nizam Museum theft case with the arrest of two history-sheeters and seized from them priceless stolen antiques including a gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds.

By TT Bureau in Hyderabad
  • Published 12.09.18
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The gold tiffin box and the gold saucer recovered from the thieves in Hyderabad. (PTI)

Hyderabad: Police on Tuesday cracked the Nizam Museum theft case with the arrest of two history-sheeters and seized from them priceless stolen antiques including a gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds.

Acting on a tip-off, the police arrested Mohammed Ghouse Pasha, 23, and his relative Mohammed Mubeen, 24, from the Himayathsagar area of the city and seized the stolen artefacts, Hyderabad police commissioner Anjani Kumar told reporters.

These included a three-tier gold tiffin box studded with precious diamonds and rubies weighing about 1,950gm, a gold cup and saucer with precious stones, and a gold tea spoon belonging to the 7th Nizam, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur.

The burglars had hidden the exhibits in a pit, the officer said.

Fifteen police teams had been hunting for the thieves since the September 2 heist.

Kumar said Pasha was involved in 15 thefts and burglaries and Mubeen, a school dropout, had been deported from Saudi Arabia, where he had been imprisoned for assaulting a Pakistani national, about four months ago.

Mubeen had gone to Saudi Arabia in search of livelihood.

After his return to Hyderabad, Mubeen visited Nizam's Museum and saw its rich collection of precious artefacts.

He discussed with Pasha a plan to steal some of the antiques, which could fetch them several crores in the international market, the commissioner said.

The duo conducted a recce and knew well the location of the CCTV cameras.

They reached the museum on September 2. Pasha tied one end of a rope to the parapet wall and the other to Mubeen's waist, and lowered him into the third gallery through the ventilator.

"Mubeen damaged the camera inside and took out the gold tiffin box, gold cup and saucer and the gold spoon from the showcase and put them in a bag. Pasha then pulled him out using the rope," the officer said.

The duo used gloves to ensure they did not leave behind fingerprints and wore masks to avoid identification. They also did not carry mobile phones during the operation, Kumar said.

Images of the duo coming out of the building and making a getaway on a motorcycle were, however, captured on CCTV cameras outside.

The two avoided taking the main roads and instead used bylanes to reach neighbouring Sangareddy district. Fearing they could be caught, they returned to Hyderabad and hid the articles in a pit. They then went to Zaheerabad in Sangareddy on their motorcycle, and after it broke down, took a bus to reach Mumbai, where they scouted for possible buyers.

Mubeen also approached his contacts abroad but without success, Kumar said. The duo then returned to Hyderabad, where the police was tipped off about them.

The museum showcases the collections of Nizam Osman Ali Khan, the 7th and last Nizam, and also his father's wardrobe. The galleries stock silver and gold artefacts and replicas of landmark constructions.

Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, the grandson of the 7th Nizam and president of the Nizam Family Welfare Association, had written to the Hyderabad police commissioner last week requesting him to accord "utmost priority" to recovering the artefacts.

He had also questioned the security arrangements at the museum. "There is a big question mark on the management running this museum as their negligence and poor security arrangements gave easy access to the thieves," he wrote. PTI

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