80 per cent of antiquity theft case remains unsolved
Investigating agencies could not make any breakthrough in about 80 per cent cases of antiquities theft from historical sites, maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in the last three years.
As many as 10 such cases were registered in different parts of the country since 2009. Only a case of theft of an invaluable granite stone Shivalinga shaft in Karnataka and another theft of Dashyatara containing nine Avataras and one figure of Vishnu in Madhya Pradesh have been solved so far.
The granite stone Shivalinga shaft was stolen from an old Shiva temple in Thimmalapura of Bellary district in Karnataka in November 2010, while a sculptural panel termed as Dashyatara containing nine Avataras and one figure of Vishnu was stolen from Dharmajeshwa temple and Buddhist Caves village in Mandsour district of Madhya Pradesh in 2011.
An 8th century sculpture, “Ornate Mithuna Couple Standing under Canopy”, which was stolen from Gargach temple in Atru, Rajasthan, in April 2009, is yet to be traced. The Gargach temple is still waiting to see the recovery of another minutely carved male and female sculpture standing under canopy which was stolen in October in the same year.
In Rajasthan, investigators have also failed to trace a four armed seated female deity and an ancient stone sculpture along with two small sculptures, which were stolen from famous Kanker-Ki-Putli temple in Bhilwara district in August and November, 2010, respectively.
Hazarduari Palace Museum, a popular tourist destination in Murshidabad, West Bengal, lost three valuable silver antiquities — Alam Panjas (palm-shaped artefacts) — in theft from its Religious Gallery in August 2010. The artifacts are yet to be traced.
Sivalayam temple of Old Vishnu and Mukteshwara Swamy temple complex at Peddamudiyam in Kadappa district of Andhra Pradesh continues to wait for the return of a Nandi sculpture which was stolen in May 2011.
As many as 3,677 monuments and historical sites have been declared as of national importance in the country under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. The ASI provides security to all of its protected monuments, museums and sites, through Armed Police Guards, Home Guards and private security guards, in addition to its regular attendants. “Problem is with those historically important sites which are still unprotected,” sources in the ASI said.