Idols in unprotected temples easy pickings for smugglers

38,500 sites are listed with HR & CE, but only 26,000 idols come under the ASI.

Updated - October 18, 2016 01:09 pm IST

Published - June 16, 2016 12:00 am IST - CHENNAI:

probing closer:An officer inspecting the idols recovered from the godown of Deenadayalan. —Photo: R. Ragu

probing closer:An officer inspecting the idols recovered from the godown of Deenadayalan. —Photo: R. Ragu

In a State where the temples are seldom managed based on their heritage or historic value, the idols of several temples in far flung districts are bound to fall prey to the idol smugglers such as Deenadayalan and Subash Kapoor.

Thousands of ancient temples in the State are dependent on the finances of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR & CE) department that manage these temples.

With several ancient temples in remote districts without security and in a dilapidated state, idols from these temples — that are valued in crores by antique dealers in foreign countries — become easy target for thieves.

The officials of the Idol Wing-CID attached to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) point out as per the records available there are 38,500 temples managed by the HR & CE, but only 26,000 idols have been registered by the Registration Officer of the State, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

So the ‘huge’ haul seized from Deenadayalan’s house and other places is but a small figure compared to the thousands of idols lying without antiquity certificates and proper security in these temples.

The official of the Idol Wing said the department has written to the HR & CE department to provide proper security to these ancient temples but no steps have been taken, an official added. The official, also said complained the department was yet to take any ownership of the idols seized from Deenadayalan.

Shortage of staff

While the officials of the Idol Wing point out the security gaps that need to be filled by the HR & CE in several old temples, their department itself remains short-staffed.

The Idol Wing was started by the State in 1983 with total strength of 122 that reduced to 27 and now stands at a mere nine. However, sources in the HR & CE department, denying any gaps in co-ordination with the Idol wing, point out that officials are keeping a close watch on news about idols recovered and collecting the data of such idols, even as they have drawn a timetable for senior officials of various circles to visit the site and

On the steps taken to prevent burglary in small temples, sources said burglar alarms have been installed and the idols of smaller temples have been removed from those temples and kept in safe custody in 21 Icon centers in the State.

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