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Chennai, India: Idols wing seizes four panchaloha idols; arrest two persons

Idols wing seizes four panchaloha idols; arrest two persons

TNN, Aug 21, 2010, 06.43am IST

CHENNAI: The idol wing of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on Thursday arrested two persons and seized four panchaloha idols stolen from a temple in Tiruvarur. The idols of Nataraja (38 kg), Pradhosha Amman, Sivasamy Amman and Chandhraskerar seized from A Justin (37) of Lalgudi, Tiruchi and Alrin Prabhu (23) of Kulamanickam, Ariyalur, nabbed from near the Marina beach, were worth over Rs 25 lakh, the police said.

These, officials said, were stolen along with three others, a silver crown and silver spear from the Giridhapureeswar Koil temple in June and concealed on the Cauvery river bed in Tiruvarur.

A special idol wing team which got a tip-off about a duo coming to the city to sell idols was monitoring the area around the Marina Beach when it saw two persons near the Labour Statue with a bag. They were taken into custody and questioned. They gave vague replies and the police team checked their bag and found a one-foot Pradhosha Amman idol.

The two then admitted to commiting the crime and said they had stolen seven such idols, including that of Pradhosha Amman, from the Giridhapureeswar Koil and added that three more idols were concealed on the Cauvery river bed. A police team then went to Tiruvarur and recovered the three idols. Three more idols are yet to be recovered and two associates of Justin and Prabhu are absconding, the police said.

According to the police, Justin, acquitted in a case of murder, had for long been targeting temples in Tamil Nadu. He and his associates had first planned to steal the idols from the Perumal Koil in Pudukkottai but dropped the plans because of the strict security arrangements there. The gang then decided on the Giridhapureeswar Koil. The team members visited the temple on several occasions to identify the places where the idols were kept. They then climbed a tree near the compound wall and used a rope to climb down. They broke the lock of the temple door, stole seven idols and the silver artefacts before using the same rope to pull up the idols and escape.

The gand then got the silver crown and spear melted and made into blocks which were sold to a jeweller in Hosur. The gang also sold the Pradosha Nayakar idol to the jeweller who returned it saying it had no gold content. The idol was then dumped in a drainage in Tiruchi, the arrested duo told the police.

They thieves then planned to sell the idols to foreign collectors through Chennai dealers. It was with this intention that Justin and Prabhu came to Chennai, the police said.

“We have taken steps to prevent this assault on our cultural heritage. It is not just the price of the idols but the value people attach to them and their cultural importance that make this crime one of the most heinous. We have also proposed to open icon centres in all districts of Tamil Nadu to bring down idol thefts,” said S K Dogra, ADGP, EOW.

Read more: Idols wing seizes four panchaloha idols; arrest two persons – Chennai – City – The Times of India

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