Fire rare owls, worth an estimated Rs one crore and being delivered to an occultist for sacrifice during the auspicious night of Diwali, have been saved by Ghaziabad police.
The two men delivering the owls, one of India's most majestic birds, on a motorbike to the occultist, were arrested near Sector 5-6 culvert in Vaishali area, police said.
The people have been identified by police as Sumit and Pradeep, had hidden the owls in a bucket.
On Diwali night, people worship goddess Lakshmi and occultist sacrifice her mount, the owl, in a rite that many believe will ward off bad luck and bring prosperity.
Senior police officer Maneesh Mishra said the owls have been handed over to the forest department and officials are trying to locate and arrest exorcists active in the area.
The two bird smugglers have been sent jail.