Kollam: Five men, suspected to be part of an antique racket, were arrested here Monday for trying to sell a petromax with markings showing it as made by the East India company centuries back.
Police said they were nabbed while negotiating to sell the `Baby Petromax` (pressurised paraffin lamp) to a foreign buyer at a huge price.
The seized object has been sent to the public sector Kerala Metals and Minerals Limited (KMML) for ascertaining its antiquity and the metals used to make it.
The accused, three of whom are from Tirunelveli in TamilNadu, had claimed that the object contains the rare metal irredium, which fetches a big price in the international market.
They said they had plans to sell it to a foreign buyer through a broker.
"Our initial effort is to ascertain whether it is corrector bogus. That is why we have sent it to KMML," the police officer investigating the case said.
The petromax has nine stars embossed on it with scorpionmarks on either side of the stars. It also displays on it suchdescriptions as "original Baby Petromax" and "Regd East IndiaCompany."
When questioned, the men told police that this particularlamp was also believed to have magical powers to bring luck toits possesser. In antique market, this object is known as"rice puller."
They also admitted that the rare metals and alloys usedfor making this lamp could fetch a huge price as they could beof use in strategic industries.
"We are not taking these claims on their face value. Wewill be proceeding on the basis of scientific evidence.We also want to ascertain if it is a genuine thing or a fake," the officer said.
The arrested were identified as Prince and Salim from Kollam and Jayaraj, Jose Jackson and Shenguttavan from Tirunelveli.