21 precious Navaratna stones, Rs. 8.81 lakh in cash and a laptop also seized
The Kadapa police took into custody Swami Raghavendra Theertha Swami (41), who claimed to be the 21st Peethadhipathi of Sri Kasi Math Samsthan, Varanasi, and his disciple Kalpura Kovillakam Lakshmikanth Prabhu (42), both natives of Sringupuram Kodungalur in Trichur district in Kerala, in a raid on a rented house in Indira Nagar in Mamillapalle in Chintakommadinne mandal, about eight km from Kadapa city.
Twenty eight panchaloha, silver, brass and copper idols of Hindu deities, of one-and-a-half to six inches height and a one-inch high gold idol of Goddess Lakshmi Devi, dating back to the 6th Century AD were seized from them, Kadapa Superintendent of Police A. Sundara Kumar Das told a media conference here on Sunday night.
In addition, 21 precious Navaratna stones, Rs. 8.81 lakh in cash and a laptop were seized from the Swamiji by Kadapa Rural circle inspector G. Bali Reddy and staff, he said.
Although the Swamiji claimed that the age-old religious idols and precious stones as well as cash belonged to Sri Kasi Math Samsthan for which he was the 21st Pontiff, the police made the seizure and took them into custody as they did not possess any documentary evidence to support their claims, Mr. Sundara Kumar Das said. They would be remanded to custody, he added.
Preliminary inquiry revealed that the Swamiji was accused in Crime No. 3499 of 2011 under Section 57 (missing person case) of Kerala Police Act in Ernakulam police station in Kochi city in Kerala, the SP explained. The Swamiji claimed to have a dispute over ‘Mathadhipatyam' at Varanasi and fearing threat to him and the ancient idols, he left the Math and came to Kadapa to safeguard the idols, the SP said.
The SP further stated that the Tirupati district court directed Swami Raghavendra Theertha Swami to hand over the religious articles to Swami Sudheendra Theertha of Sri Kasi Math. The Swamiji said he took ‘sanyasa deeksha' at an age of 17 years in 1989 at Sri Kasi Math and was given the ancient idols and articles by the 20th Peethadhipathi of the Math. He claimed to have filed an appeal in A.P. High Court against the directives of Tirupati district court.
Kadapa Rural CI G. Bali Reddy and Chintakommadinne sub-inspector K. Ashok Reddy also participated.