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Two arrested in Odisha for theft at Jain temple

Bhubaneswar, July 15, 2013, DHNS: 1:20 IST
A police team from Mangalore on Monday arrested two people here in a case related to the theft of precious idols from the Jain temple at Moodbidri in Karnataka.

Digambar Mohanty and Kirtimoyee Mohanty, the father-in-law and wife of 35-year-old Santosh Das alias Ghanashyam Das, the absconding principal accused in the case, were produced in a local court in the Odisha capital, which sent them for medical tests.

The duo will be taken to Mangalore in a day or two for further investigation.
The Mangalore police, with help from a special squad of the Bhubaneswar police, had raided the residence of Mohanty, a class IV employee attached to the Urban Development Department of the Government of Odisha, last Saturday.

A number of stolen idols – some of them more than a century old and worth crores – and cash and ATM cards of various banks were seized from Mohanty’s Shailashree Vihar home here.

Since then, he and his daughter-in-law were being interrogated by the police.

Phone tracked

The Mangalore police team had arrived here after tracking the mobile phone number of Das, who is believed to have fled to another state.

His involvement in the case had come to the fore after the police examined the footages of the CCTV camera at the Moodbidri Jain shrine which had reportedly captured the entire stealing operation in the first week of this month.
Sources in the city special squad said that during preliminary investigation, it was found that Das was involved in a number of idol thefts in Gujarat, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Inter-state operation

“He is an inter-state operator and was previously involved in idol thefts in different states. Earlier, he was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police and released from a Hyderabad prison some time ago. He is also believed to be involved in smuggling idols to Nepal,” said a special squad officer.

Sources alleged that Das also posed as a senior executive of the Bombay Stock Exchange and cheated several people.

He owns a palatial house in his native Itamati village in Odisha’s coastal Nayagarh district, investigators said.

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