Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said that the State government had recommended a CBI inquiry into the theft of the Mahavira idol, believed to be over 2,000 years old, from an ancient Jain temple in Jamui district on the night of Friday last.
“In such theft cases of precious antique idols, there’s a possibility of the involvement of an inter-State or international gang, and since the CBI has the expertise in cracking such cases, I’ve asked our police chief to speak to the CBI Director to take up the matter”, said Mr. Kumar.
The ancient idol of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankar of the Jains, weighing 250 kg and worth several crores of rupees, was stolen from Lachhuar village in Jamui. The black stone statue was under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called up Mr. Kumar and enquired about the progress of the investigations. Jamui Lok Sabha member and Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan too had met Mr. Singh.
The Jain community across the world has also expressed deep concern over the theft.
Meanwhile, State officials told The Hindu that this was the third such theft of precious idols reported this year. On January 17, an ancient asthadhatu (an alloy of eight metals) idol of Rama and Sita was stolen from Baretha Thakurbari temple in Katihar district, and three idols were stolen on May 14 from a Jain temple in Thakurganj, Kishanganj district.
“Nearly 175 precious idols and statues have been stolen from temples in Bihar in the past four years,” the officials said. Such theft of precious idols are meticulously executed by some professional gangs with links to national and international markets,” a police official said.