P. Subhash Chandra Kapoor, the infamous antique dealer lodged in Tiruchi Central Prison for his involvement in various idol smuggling cases, was remanded in custody by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district on Monday in connection with the theft of idols from Sri Narumpoonatha Swamy Temple at Pazhavoor near Tirunelveli in 2005.
Though many were earlier arrested in the case and charge sheet was filed, the involvement of Kapoor and his accomplices from across India and foreign countries was overlooked, said A.G. Pon Manickavel, Inspector General of Police, heading Idol Wing of Tamil Nadu Police, told The Hindu.
“It was only after my team began re-investigation of the case more than two years ago, the international trail behind this theft has come to light,” he added.
Kapoor, alleged to be the prime conspirator, was the twelfth person to be arrested in the Pazhavoor case. Other key persons arrested in the case include G. Deenadayalan (nabbed in June this year), and Vallabh Prakash and his son Aditya Prakash, who were running Indo-Nepal Art Centre in Mumbai (arrested last month).
Sources at the Idol Wing said nine of the 13 idols stolen from the temple had been recovered while the remaining four were allegedly destroyed by those who stole them in a bid to extract gold from them.
According to Mr. Pon Manickavel, four of the nine recovered idols were taken abroad in a long trail through different places, including Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Hongkong, London and New York, with a major role played by Deenadayalan, Vallabh Prakash and his son.
One of these four idols was Ananda Nataraja idol, one of the arms of which was chopped by those who stole it. Sources in Idol Wing said the idol reached Kapoor’s art gallery in Manhattan following an attempt by Neil Perismith, allegedly an accomplice of Kapoor, to reconstruct the arm in London. Kapoor reportedly tried to sell the idol for Rs. 25 crore.
However, owing to pressure mounted by Deenadayalan, who came in the radar of the Idol Wing radar a few years back but obtained anticipatory bail to evade arrest, the idol was brought back to India through Nepal, sources said, adding they would also pursue the arrest of Neil Perismith.
CJM Court in Srivilliputhur remanded Kapoor in judicial custody in the case until January 9, 2015.