After recovering over 200 idols and artefacts from Chennai based businessman Ranvir Shah's residence and farmhouse, the Idol Wing on Sunday searched his office in Guindy. Five statues of 'vahanams' were found at the venue and the officials have said that they will soon be taking action to arrest Ranvir Shah.
The businessman's residence was first raided in September and 89 statues worth over Rs 100 crore were seized. Following this, idols at his farmhouse was seized and then statues were also found in a guest house belonging to a company that he is an independent director in.
Following the latest raid at his Guindy office, Idol Wing DSP Sundaram told the media, "Several artefacts stolen from Tamil Nadu temples are hidden here. They are all statues of 'vahanams'. We got information that there were plans to smuggle these to foreign countries. So we got a search warrant from the Kumbakonam court. We found five vahanams of Perumal â€“ rishabha vahanams. These are over 500 years old. A lot of these idols donâ€™t have the necessary documentation. We are therefore taking action arrest Ranvir Shah."
The provisions of The Antiquity and Art Treasures Act, 1972, prohibits trading of antiquities at least 100 years old and also any item of antique value without the Archaeology Survey of Indiaâ€™s (ASI) clearance. But Ranvir Shah's counsel maintains that the businessman has done nothing illegal. Both Ranvir Shah and his friend and hotelier Kiran Rao, who resides at Ranvirâ€™s Poes Garden residence, have already filed for anticipatory bail.
"There is no question of arresting him when the Anticipatory Bail Warrant is pending in court. This is investigation as ordered by the Kumbakonam court," says advocate Thangaraj, counsel for Ranvir Shah. "We have the necessary papers to prove ownership of all these idols and statues. We can prove everything in court," he adds.
But how can statues over 100 years old be held privately? "No, these statues are not more than 50 years old, " he claims. And where is Ranvir Shah now? "He is in North India, not in Chennai," he adds.