As reported in The Himalayan Times, the Nepal Police have arrested five persons involved in the attempted sale of an antique bronze Buddha idol.
The five arrested — Dawa Lama, Uttam Kumar Rai, Dai Bahadur Rai, Santosh Rai, and Krishna Khatri — are believed to belong to a gang. Authorities found the gang in a Jorpati-based Sindhupalchowk hotel. The police also recovered the subject of the gang’s crime, a 100 year old bronze Buddha idol.
According to police, Dawa was the mastermind behind the crime. The gang planned to bring the Buddha to Katmandu, where they would find potential buyers. Krishna, Uttam, Dai and Santosh had agreed to pay Dawa an initial payment of Rs 300,000, and then pay him Rs 4,000,000 after the Buddha was sold. Police also believe that Krishna, Uttam, Dai, and Santosh may have been planning to steal the Buddha from Dawa and go into hiding.
Because the Buddha is an object of historical and archeological importance, the gang members will likely be charged under the Ancient Monument Preservation Act of 1956. They face up to 5 years in prison and a Rs 25,000 fine if convicted. In the past two years, 30 people have been arrested in the Valley for their associations with gangs that deal in illicit antiquities.