Deenadhayalan, who was recently arrested by the Idol Wing police in Chennai on Wednesday in connection with a heist in a temple in Tirunelveli district in 2005, appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court in Srivilliputtur. The CJM, Vasanthi, remanded the 84-year-old accused to judicial custody in this case till July 27.
Earlier, a team of Idol Wing – Criminal Investigation Department (CID) sleuths, led by its Inspector-General of Police, A.G. Pon Manickavel, brought Deenadhayalan from Chennai.
The case pertains to burglary of 13 panchaloha idols of various sizes from Narumpoonathar temple in Pazhavur in Tirunelveli in June 2005. The Idol Wing sleuths charge-sheeted eight accused, including Deenadhayalan, in the case.
The hearing of the case at the Special Court was on the verge of completion and the case was about to be disposed of two weeks ago.
However, Mr. Manickavel, filed an appeal in the court under Section 173 (8) of Code of Criminal Procedure seeking permission for fresh investigation into the case following emergence of “additional facts”.
Police sources said that out of 13 idols stolen from the temple, the police recovered five idols, and four of the remaining seven that were taken to several countries returned to India and were kept at the art gallery run by Deenadayalan. Meanwhile, the Idol Wing-CID had arrested Deenadayalan in June 2016 following seizure of several stolen idols from his house.
During interrogation in connection with those idols, Deenadayalan had reportedly confessed to have visited the Pazhavur temple with a few others, including suspects from outside Tamil Nadu, one week before the burglary.
He had taken photographs of the idols at the temple after convincing the temple priest by offering him Rs. 1,000 during deeparadhana .
Meanwhile, the accused, who had allegedly stolen the idols, had broken the left hand of Lord Nataraja idol hoping to find precious stones inside. The same idol had been taken to London and then to Manhattan after transporting it through Madurai, Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, and Honk Kong, sources added.
The ramifications of the conspiracy in illegal export of the 700-year-old idols and the role of international smugglers in this connection were yet to be investigated, sources added.