Hyderabad: Two suspects from Karnataka who were trying to sell antique panchaloha idols stolen from temples and valued at Rs 3 crores in the international market, were arrested at Afzalgunj in the city by the sleuths of North Zone Task Force on Sunday.
The idols of Lord Venugopalaswamy, Goddesses Rukmini and Sathyabhama dating back to more than 600 years were stolen from Gopalaswamy temple in Kamareddy by the inter-State gang.
On a tip off, the Task Force team in a joint operation with Kamareddy Town Police nabbed Shaik Hyder (25) and Shaik Aziz (24), both hailing from Bidar in Karnataka while they were attempting to sell the idols at Afzalgunj.
The gang was found to be involved in similar offences under Hingoli police station, Maharashtra. Along with other associates, the duo used to move around in rural areas abutting towns looking for temples which had antique panchaloha idols. They carry small sized iron rods to break open the locks and doors of the temple and commit the theft while their other associates stood guard outside. The stolen idols were then sold to antique idol smugglers.
In Maharashtra, the gang committed theft of antique panchaloha idol of Mahavira weighing about 7 kgs from a Jain temple at Hingoli and a panchaloha idol of Lord Shiva from Kedarling temple, Killari in Latur district. The suspects were earlier arrested in three cases in Karnataka at Bagalkot and Bijapur, according to the Task Force officials.
The apprehended suspects on Sunday were being handed over to Kamareddy police along with seized material for further investigation.