Will the owner of this antique musket please stand up?
|Believed to be from 1850s, Rs 3.17 lakh firearm cops seized from chain-snatching suspect last week has no claimant yet|
The rightful owner of an antique musket seized by the police from a chain-snatching suspect last Wednesday remains a matter of conjecture as no individual or institute has come forward to claim it.
No one to fire: Though the suspect had confessed to stealing the musket
from Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, the research institute in Sadashiv
Peth, has denied the firearm was stolen from it
The suspect had confessed to stealing the over-150-year-old firearm from Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, a reputable research institute in Sadashiv Peth, during an exhibition there in November 2009. But the institute denied the musket was stolen from it.
The institute also said to the police that if they wanted to hand over the historical firearm to it, the institute would be ready to take care of it. Worth Rs 3.17 lakh, the seized firearm is believed to be much older than 1857 uprising that began with Mangal Pandey.
Noted historians Gajanan Mehendale and Mandar Lawate, who are associated with the Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, had also inspected the musket at the Police Commissionerate.
"In those days, the pistol was known as tamancha," Lawate said. "We had exhibited two rifles in November 2009, but we never had this weapon. Also, no theft was reported from our institute. We have now informed the police that if they are planning to hand over the weapon to some museum, we are willing to take it."
The person caught with the gun was identified as Ganesh Suresh Gunjal (24), a resident of Kondhwa who hails from Sonewadi in Ahmednagar district. He was arrested on charges of possessing the firearm illegally. Eleven silver coins bearing Queen Victoria's inscription and brass coins of the Chhatrapati Shivaji era were also recovered from the suspect.
Trying to verify Gunjal's claims that the musket was stolen from the Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, the police found that no theft complaint had been lodged at the Vishrambaug police station, under the jurisdiction of which the institute comes. Now the investigations have hit a dead end and the police are finding it difficult to establish the owner of the musket, said police sources.