Vizianagaram: A gang trying to make quick money by selling idols with "mystic powers" to innocent people was busted by the Vizianagaram police on Thursday.

Four persons - Rajanala Srinivasa Rao (48) and Rongali Ramasatyam (53) of Vizianagaram, P. Venkata Rao (57) of Vizag city and Divakar Kiran Kumar (30) of Chhattisgarh – were arrested.

The Vizianagaram DSP, P. Anil, said the gang used to target people who had incurred losses in business. They would convince them that these idols had powers that would bring them luck and prosperity. The gang would quote a very high price but sell it at a reasonable price later.

In the incident which led to their arrest, the four men approached Kalla Mahesh of Nellimarla in Vizianagaram and told him that they would sell him an idol with magical powers for Rs. 5 lakh. One of the members of the gang posed as an appraiser of the idol.

The gang asked Mahesh to pay Rs. 20,000 as advance to see the idol and another Rs. 2 lakh to test the magical powers of the idol. On 27 May, Mahesh was asked to come to VT Agraharam where he paid the gang Rs. 20,000. When Mahesh again met the gang to see the idol and purchase it on 10 August, the gang showed him a statue of an East India soldier (1818) and claimed it had magical powers. Mahesh, who expected an idol of a deity, was disappointed after seeing the statue and asked for a deity. In the process, there was a difference between the gang and Mahesh.

Realizing he was cheated, Mahesh approached the Vizianagaram Rural police the same day. The police nabbed the four men and seized the statue of the soldier and a car from them. They have launched a manhunt for one more accused, Narayana Rao, the DSP said.

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