Burglars targeted a Jain temple on Akkipet Main Road in the city early on Sunday and decamped with cash and jewellery worth Rs. 25 lakh after rendering the security guards unconscious with chloroform and damaging the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
The gang members, covering their faces with handkerchiefs and other pieces of cloth, entered the Sri Vasupujya temple, a popular Jain shrine located in the busy commercial hub of Chickpet, by breaking open the backdoor around 2.30 a.m.
They first overpowered the five security guards before sedating them with chloroform. Later, they smashed six CCTV cameras on temple premises.
After ransacking the temple by damaging the grilled gate put up at the sanctum sanctorum, they took away cash by breaking open the donation box and gold jewels adorning the idols.
The incident came to light around 5 a.m. when the priest, Suresh, came to open the temple. He was taken aback when he found the guards lying unconscious on the premises while the temple was ransacked and the jewels and cash missing.
He immediately called up the temple trustee Kantilal Jain, who, in turn, informed the Cottonpet police.
Mr. Kantilal said the robbers had taken away only currency notes in the donation box, amounting to Rs 2 lakh, leaving behind the coins. The priest used to keep the gold ornaments adorning the idols in a box in the adjacent office room. The robbers had not only cleaned up the jewel box, but also took away cash amounting to Rs. 3 lakh kept in the office room.
Police said the robbers had taken away gold tilaks adorning the foreheads of the six idols of Mahaveer. Each gold tilaks weighs 10 gm.
Mr. Kantilal said the miscreants had cut the wires of six of the 16 CCTV cameras installed on the temple premises. “However, the footage obtained from the cameras showed the miscreants covering their faces”, he said.
After putting three guards on duty to sleep with chloroform, the miscreants administered sedatives to two others, who were resting in a room on the temple premises.
The Cottonpet police, who are investigating the case, suspect the accused to had carried out a recce of the temple premises before carrying the crime. “We are also not ruling out the possibility of insiders’ involvement and are investigating further”, a senior police official said.
The security guards identified as Nagveer Bahadur, Jangveer Bahadur, Lal Bahadur, Kamesh Bahadur, Prakash Bahadur, who were later shifted to Victora Hospital, are recuperating.
Terming it as an unfortunate incident, former president of Jain Yuva Sangathan, Bangalore, Sajjan Raj Mehta, said that it could be a handiwork of idol smugglers, who are targeting temples across the country for antiques.
Demanding a detailed investigation, he said the temple trust must ensure foolproof security besides having an inventory comprising photographs of all the antique idols and jewels that should be made readily available to the police in case of any eventuality.
Another security measure needed is setting up of a national level information sharing system where police from across the country can get the details of this idol mafia. “It could help the police to track the thieves easily”, he said.