The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a joint meeting of Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Inspector General of Police A.G. Pon Manickavel and representatives from the Archaeological Survey of India as well as the State Archaeological Department to chalk out ways and means to solve idol theft cases.
Passing interim orders on a batch of writ petitions, Justice R. Mahadevan directed the HR&CE Commissioner to ensure that the meeting was conducted within three weeks and all the infrastructural requirements of Mr. Pon Manickavel, who had been appointed as the head of Idol Wing CID on the orders of the court, were addressed.
The judge passed the orders after hearing the case through video conferencing from the Madurai Bench of the High Court. While the IG participated in the proceedings from Madurai, one of the petitioners ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendran and Government Pleader (in-charge) T.N. Rajagopalan made their submission from here.
During the course of arguments, the IG told the court that he would require high-definition cameras to shoot pictures of the idols that had been recovered so far from the smugglers. He said that the HR&CE department could be directed to provide the cameras which would be returned after the completion of the work. In his submissions, Mr. Rajendran said that a directive should be issued to handicraft manufacturers to henceforth inscribe the date of manufacturing on the idols so that international idol smugglers could be prevented from taking away precious and ancient idols, stolen from Indian temples, to other countries through false claims of being new handicraft products.
The judge agreed to consider the suggestion and pass suitable orders during the next hearing. In so far as the petitioner’s plea for providing police protection to him was concerned, the judge directed the police officials to look into his request in the light of the threats received by him. Later, the case was posted for hearing after 3 weeks.