Six antique idols worth Rs 22 crore seized in Tamil Nadu

The idols, all made of metal and are in demand abroad with many people spending a premium to buy them, are of Hindu deities.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 14:21 IST

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Chennai: Six antique idols of various Hindu deities worth Rs 22 crore, which were being transported from Mayiladuthurai to Chennai to be smuggled to foreign countries, have been recovered from Thanjavur by the Idol Wing CID of Tamil Nadu Police.

The idols, all made of metal and are in demand abroad with many people spending a premium to buy them, are of Hindu deities like Tripuranthakar, Veenathara Dakshinamoorthy, Rishabadevar, and Amman. They were found five years ago in Korukkai village in Mayiladuthurai district when 64-year-old Lakshmanan dug his land to build a house.

“He (Lakshmanan) hid this information from government officials as he believed selling these idols would help him make good money. He informed his friends Rajesh Kannan and Thirumurugan who came and inspected the idols after which the trio decided to sell them to foreign customers at the appropriate time,” a senior police officer told DH.

The officer said the Idol Wing CID constituted 13 special teams under the head of range inspectors based on a tip-off that metal idols could be smuggled to foreign countries. On July 6, a special team of Tiruchirapalli circle intercepted a SUV near Thanjavur on the Thanjavur-Tiruchirappalli National Highway and found six idols inside the car.

Apart from Rajesh Kannan and Lakshmanan, their accomplice Thirumurugan was also arrested by the police. “It was very recently that Kannan got some link to sell the idols and to smuggle them abroad. Rajesh Kannan and Thirumurugan went to Mayiladuthurai on the night of July 5 and they started to Chennai on the morning of July 6,” the officer added.

“The Special Team of Idol Wing CID, Trichy after intercepting the above car, enquired about the provenance of the idols. But, they failed to give any details of ownership. Hence, the Idol Wing CID seized the 6 metal idols,” the officer added.

Another officer said further investigation is being carried out to identify the temple or ownership of idols and the involvement of any other culprits.

Since 2019, the Idol Wing has recovered over 350 idols stolen from various temples in the state. The Idol Wing goes through several documents and consults experts to ensure that the stolen idols match with those found in auction houses or private collections across the globe.

Published 08 July 2024, 14:21 IST

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