As the officers of the Idol Wing continue to unearth more idols, artefacts, and paintings, they continue to be puzzled by the vast network that the 84-year-old G. Deenadayalan used to ‘smoothly’ smuggle these antique idols worth several hundreds of crores to foreign buyers while staying out of the clutches of law enforcement.
Their key aims while investigating Deenadayalan were to trace the modus operandi, identify the network of idol thieves, expose the loopholes that the smugglers use to bypass the law, and recover all such stolen idols and artefacts.
Idol wing officials are stunned at how these ancient idols, supposed to be more than 1,000 years old, could have been sent abroad, despite the Antiquities Act. They suspect Deenadayalan bypassed the mandated process of taking antique certificates issued by the Registration Officer of the State Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). They were packed and sent off as handicrafts, without any certification.
Inspector General of Police (Idol wing) A.G. Pon Manickavel told The Hindu that Deenadayalan had a perfect seller-buyer relationship with the notorious idol smuggler Subhash Kapoor. The accused, running art galleries in various places, had been able to function because of his ‘network’ to ship the antique idols as handicraft items in big containers. He said, in one instance, a senior official of the Handicrafts department even recommended to port officials that crates carrying these idols need not be checked as they were only handicrafts items.
According to Mr. Manickavel, the idol smuggling racket would not have been busted but for the timely action by team members deputed to visit Murray’s Gate Road, Alwarpet on the night of May 30, based on a tip-off by an informant. Incidentally, the informant had earlier provided a tip-off about Deenadayalan, but on verification, that turned out to be a false alarm. Despite this first failure, when the tip-off came, a senior official was deputed to the house where the three employees were seen packing a Vishnu idol, bringing the smuggler’s extraordinarily long run to an abrupt end.
The officials of the Idol Wing said they had not seen any computers in the three places where the search is on, but have seized several bank documents and a diary with notings by Deenadayalan. This will be submitted to the Enforcement Directorate to find the funding network and the people involved in this racket. In the meantime the officials of the Idol Wing plan to inspect other art galleries owned by Deenadayalan in the city and Bangalore.
Prominent idols stolen
Temple: Sundareswarar, Location: Suthamalli, Ariyalur Idols stolen: Sivagami Amman, Natarajar, Somaskandar, Valli, Asthiradevar, Subramaniyar
Temple: Brihadeeswarar, Location: Sripuranthan, Ariyalur Idols stolen: Chandrashekhar, Narthana Krishnar, Sambanthar, Amman, Vinayagar, Natarajar