HP to extradite three suspects in theft of antique idols

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    The Himachal Pradesh government today said that it had issued search out notices to nab 3 suspects in the theft of antique idols reportedly holed up in Nepal and Canada as the government has asked the union government to sign the extradition treaty with Nepal and search out notice have been issued to Canada to trace out the 2 others.

    Replying to a query raised by BJP member Mr. Gulab Singh Thakur and others, Chief Minister Mr. Virbhadra Singh who also holds the portfolio of home said that the State has sought of extradition of a Nepalese prime accused in the theft of an antique idol from a historic temple in Kullu town after the successful recovery of idols last year.

    Accused Nar Prashad Jaisi involved in the burglary of Lord Raghunath temple in Sultanpur Dec 9 last year and took away the idols including that of Lord Raghunath, however the SIT constituted by the state police taking the assistance of Interpol recovered all the idols.

    The prime accused Jaisi with the help of the special team of Nepal Police was traced out near Kohlapur in Bank district of Nepal where he was detained by the police in Nepal.

    State constituted an SIT headed by Additional Director General of Police (DGP) Mr. Sanjay Kundu intercepted  accused last year waiting to extradite the accused in the absence of extradition treaty.

    Mr. Singh said that matter was already pending before the legal cell of interior security unit of Home ministry which had recently wrote the state government that it had already prepared the draft of the treaty to sign it soon.  “Though India and Nepal have no such treaty, we are trying to bring him back to the country as the matter has been taken up with the union home minister to expedite the process.” Mr. Singh said in the house.

    The accused was identified with the help of CCTV footage and tracking of his mobile phone, was detained on Jan 22 in Nepal. In the interrogation, he revealed the places where he buried the stolen artefacts. The centuries old Kullu Dussehra and Kullu Holi festivals are associated with Lord Raghunath, the chief deity.

    Mr. Singh said that diffusion notices have been issued to Interpol to trace two more persons who are reportedly living in Canada.

    He said that India has the extradition treaty with Canada and Interpol has been provided to verify the address two suspects as the case have been lodged by one Ms. Gitanjali Lakhanpal resident of Pratapnagar Hamirpur against her husband and in-laws.

    The Government stated in the house that during last three years eight incidents of antique idols burglary took place the state in last three and four cases were untraced. He said that three cases were pending in the court and one is being investigated by the police.

    He said that six incidents of antique idols theft occurred in the Kullu and two in Kinnaur district. He said that during last three years about 9179 cases of crime were registered in the state.

    Police officials said in the past 15 years at least 100 thefts had been reported from temples in Himachal Pradesh. Over 20 of them were major ones.

    Mr. Maheswer Singh who is scion Royal family and caretaker of the Raghunath temple and the member of Assembly demanded that Nepal became the heaven for the peddlers of antique idols and other artifacts due to death of such treaty should be expedited.

    The hill state has over 2,000 temples and monasteries that are centuries old. Of these, 60 are under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India while 31 are with the state language, art and culture department.

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