As the Tamil Nadu’s Idol Wing CID has recovered numerous high-value idols, the move has been welcomed by historians and local residents who have been reunited with their temple idols after years. However, the investigations have not only exposed a nexus between smugglers and some temple authorities, but also the police.
The Wing went on to trace, in action-movie style races across several nations, and sometimes, with the aid of the internet, antique pieces and idols that the true possessors had lost hope of recovering, and also initiated action to bring them back to their rightful temples.
The Idol wing, since 2012, has registered 103 cases of which 53 cases were registered during the last one year and have seized more than 1,539 idols. During the last one year, eight cases have resulted in convictions for the accused.
Director General of Police, Idol Wing CID K. Jayanth Murali along with (from left) Inspector General of Police, R. Dhinakaran and S.P. Ravi inspecting the idols which were seized from Swamimalai.
An idol of Yoganarasimha, allegedly belonging to Sri Venugopala Swamy temple, Alathur, Thiruvarur district, were traced to the Nelson-Atkins Museums, Kansas City, Missouri, USA by Tamil Nadu Idol Wing CID.
Old statues and idols seized at Puducherry by Tamil Nadu Police
An antique lingam recovered by the Idol Wing
Additional Director General of Police, Idol Wing CID Abhay Kumar Singh inspecting seized antiquities at Idol Wing CID office in Guindy
The stolen idols seized by the Idol Wing CID from Puducherry kept at the modern police control room at Kumbakonam
Antique metal idols from Arulmigu Vishwanatha Swamy Temple in Tiruvarur district, identified by the Idol Wing CID as possibly stolen, detected at the LACMA Museum in Los Angeles.
Idol Wing CID police with the help of Fire and Rescue Services personnel searching for peacock idol of Punnaivananathar which is suspected to have buried in Mylapore temple tank in Chennai.
Seven antique idols seized from a house in Raja Annamalaipuram.
The metal idol of Lord Nataraja that was seized by the Idol Wing CID at Irugur junction in Coimbatore.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), R. Shivaprasad, having a look at three stolen panchaloga idols that were recovered by the police, in Madurai.
A bronze idol of Nataraj seized by the Tamil Nadu Idol Wing from the residence of a German national in Auroville.