With the arrest of three youths near Red Hills on charges of idol smuggling, Chennai police seems to have stumbled upon yet another criminal network involved in smuggling antique idols from temples in southern districts and selling them in the city as antiques or melting them for the metal.
While the city was calm after the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the gang brought an idol into the city from Madurai. When a police team headed by Inspector of Red Hills Station was conducting vehicle-checks near Thiruvallur Koot Road, Red Hills, on Wednesday night, a speeding SUV with three youths was stopped. Police quizzed them but they gave evasive replies and attempted to flee.
D. Sathishkumar(23), K.Parthiban(19) and G. Japan alias Jayakumar(23) have been identified as suspects who smuggled the idol from Madurai.
During interrogation, they confessed to having stolen the idol for melting it to get gold. A police officer said all three were working as drivers in Attanthangal near Cholavaram. They said they stole the idol from a temple near Thirumangalam following instructions from their owner Kalidoss.
The police interrogated them further to know if they have any nexus with antique idol smugglers who were recently arrested by Idol Wing CID attached to Economic Offences Wing.
“So far it is not clear on whether the suspects have larger network with other gangs. We are looking for key suspect Kalidoss of Cholavaram and two more accomplices. Only after they are arrested, we may be able to unearth the entire network,” said an official.
Red Hills police registered a case under Sections 380 (Theft), and 457( Lurking house-trespass or house-breaking by night in order to commit offence) of Indian Penal Code.