Ancient idols kept in temples with insufficient security measures in Perambalur and Ariyalur districts will soon be housed in a secure place.
The construction of Icon Centres with requisite safety measures to safeguard the precious idols was apace in both districts which had several shrines. Work on the establishment of the Icon Centres was on the verge of completion, said officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department which was setting up the two icon centres.
Coming up in Perambalur and Ariyalur towns, the Icon Centres would have a strongroom and equipped with closed-circuit television units and burglar alarms, said the officials. The two air-conditioned centres were being built to accommodate over 1,000 ancient idols. The department had granted over Rs. 90 lakh each for the construction of the centres.
The two districts alone accounted for over 1,000 temples coming under the control of the HR & CE Department.
Devotees could take the idols on certain auspicious occasions and temple festivals after obtaining permission from the department to perform puja at the shrines. Upon completion of the festival, the idols would be brought back to the icon centres, said the officials. The setting up of the centres was necessitated following theft of idols from temples in non-descript locations across the State.
Over 20 idols from the temples in Sripuranthan and Suthamalli in Ariyalur district were stolen a few years ago with the Idol Wing CID Police arresting a U.S.-based antiquities dealer, Subhash Chandra Kapoor, and a few others in this connection.
The charge against Kapoor was that he had conspired to commit burglary, organised and funded the offence besides abetting smuggling. He was alleged to have sold the stolen idols to various museums abroad.
One of the stolen idols was that of Nataraja which was stolen from the Sripuranthan temple and returned to India by Australia last year. The idol was subsequently sent to Kumbakonam Icon Centre for safe custody.