THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ‘little girl’ who helped Kerala Police crack a major temple theft case has been rewarded by the Travancore Devaswom Board after 38-long years. On Tuesday, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran handed over a new house to 49-year-old Ramani of Vellarada who played a crucial role in identifying the man behind the Ettumanoor temple theft case in 1981.
The investigation into the theft case took a fresh twist after the police recovered the pages from a school student’s notebook with something written on it in pencil. It apparently had the name and address of the student named Ramani hailing from Parassala, which had helped the police to zero in on the thief Stephen. Following directions given by Stephen, the police dug out the golden idol weighing 5.5 kg from a betel leaf field.
Though the temple officials had then offered a job for Ramani, it did not materialise. Last year, there were media reports that Ramani was living in poor condition. Her husband died six months ago, and she, along with two children, were living in a shabby house. Parassala MLA C K Hareendran visited Ramani and took up the issue with the TDB. Later, TDB president A Padmakumar announced that the board will build a house for her and give her a temporary job.
Upon her request, the TDB is planning to give the job to Ramani’s son. Her son is an autorickshaw driver and daughter is mentally-challenged. The new house in Ramani’s property at Kiliyoor, Vellarada, was built under the Saranasrayam project of the TDB. Two Bengaluru-based devotees donated the money. The 2BHK house was built at a cost of Rs 12 lakh.
The burglary appeared to have been committed by a professional as even the experienced police dog could smell nothing - but ran to the temple tank. This led the police to dry the tank and a crowbar which was assumed to be used by the culprit to break open the ‘Sreekovil’ was recovered. A police constable also noticed a small piece of paper floating on the water, before the tank was emptied. It had the details of Ramani.
The police immediately rushed to Parassala and traced Ramani. She confirmed that the piece of paper was part of her previous year’s composition notebook, which along with other outdated school books had been sold to an iron merchant. The iron merchant, who said the paper had been used to wrap some articles he sold, identified the crowbar as one sold by him.
This finally led to Stephen who hails from Dhanuvachapuram in Thiruvananthapuram. After his release from jail, Stephen turned to spirituality. In 1981, after the arrest of the accused, Ramani was felicitated at a function held at the Ettumanoor temple. She was given a cash award of Rs 10,000.