Police to seek documents from Australian authorities

Three staff members of Vriddhachalam temple to be added to the list of accused

Published - June 02, 2017 11:51 pm IST - CHENNAI

The officers of CB-CID (Idol Wing) will be seeking documents from the Australian authorities, officials of the National Museum, New Delhi and the Archaeological Survey of India relating to the theft of idols from the Vriddhagiriswarar temple in Vriddhachalam nearly 15 years ago.

Showing as ‘pinnam’ (damaged), temple officials removed six idols — Ardhanareeswarar, Narasimmee, Pillaiyar, Itchasakthi, Gnanasakthi and Kriyasakthi — from the pedestals of the temple. Later, antique dealers in connivance with officials and local persons took them away in 2002. But the theft was not reported to the police. After 11 years, the case was taken up for investigation on the initiative of Inspector General of Police CB-CID (Idol Wing) A.G. Ponn Manickavel.

T. Ramesh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Idol Wing, registered a case in 2015 based on the complaint of the IG citing six persons as accused, including antique dealer Subhash Chandra Kapoor. The Ardhanareeswarar idol was traced to Australia and brought back in 2015.

Amidst tight security, the 1,040-year-old Chola-era stone idol, Narasimmee, worth approximately ₹1.49 crore, was recently brought back from Australia. It was produced before the judicial magistrate court in Vriddhachalam last Monday. Following the court order, the police handed over the idol to the custody of Assistant Executive Officer, Icon Centre, Kumbakonam.

DSP Ramesh told The Hindu , “We will seek documents from the Australian authorities, ASI and National Museum, New Delhi. So far we have cited six persons, including Subhash Chandra Kapoor in the first information report. In the final report, we will add three staff — executive officer, assistant executive officer and a guard of the temple, who allegedly abetted the crime.”

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