Antique idols hidden in TN temple seized
Three antique idols concealed in an almirah in a suspicious manner at a temple in Nagapattinam district in the state were confiscated, the Tamil Nadu Idol Wing CID said on Thursday.
Following a tip off, the Idol Wing sleuths searched the almirah in the Pannaka Parameswara Swamy temple at Panna Street, Thirukkuvalai Taluk, Nagapattinam, and found three bronze idols of Valli measuring 38.5 cm in height and weighing 7.3 kg, Bhuvaneswari Amman of 30 cm in height and weighing 6.2 kg and Thirugnana Sambanthar 43 cm in height and weighing 9.4 kg.
The team led by Balamurugan, Additional Superintendent of Police, IW CID Central Zone, Trichy, verified the temple records and found no mention of these idols in the registry.
The Executive Officer of the temple was unaware of the presence of the idols. He told the special team that there was no likelihood of the idols belonging to the temple as they were never worshipped at the shrine.
He wanted the police team to investigate the case. Following his submission, the team seized the three idols and based on the complaint of Sub Inspector Thandayuthapani, the wing registered a case to trace the temples from where these idols were removed and kept in the almirah at Pannaka Parameswara Swamy temple, a release said.
According to an expert, the three unaccounted idols are high-value ones dating back to the Cholas of the 12th to 15th century AD. Inspector Indira Kumari has been entrusted with the task of investigating the case.
The seized idols were produced before a special court in Kumbakonam and remanded on Wednesday. “The Investigating Officer is planning to check if the images of the unaccounted idols are available at the Indo-French Institute, Pondicherry,” the release said.
The DGP IW CID, K Jayanth Murali appreciated the team and promised a special reward if they identified the temples from where they were stolen. The wing has approached the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department for identifying and assigning the idols to the temples.
Recently, a probe by the Idol Wing CID police into the theft of a Ganesh idol from the same temple stolen 50 years ago led to the chance discovery of 11 antique idols that were stolen from the shrine. Interestingly, the temple staff were unaware of the theft until the officers of Idol Wing reached the temple and began the investigation.
The stolen Ganesh idol was traced to the Norton Simon Museum, USA. Eleven other idols viz: Somaskandar, Chandrasekhara Amman, Devi, Astiradevar, Pidari Amman, Navagraha Surya, Boghasakthiamman, dancing Sambandhar, Chandrasekhar with Chandrasekhar Amman, standing Chandrasekhar and standing Vinayakar, were stolen over 50 years ago.
The Devi idol was recently traced to Sotheby’s, New York which had acquired the idol between 1970 and 1973 and recently sold the same for USD 50000 (Rs 40,99,227).