CUTTACK: In a major breakthrough, Commissionerate Police has not only nabbed the burglars involved in Maa Mangala temple theft at Jhanjirimanga but also busted the inter-district gang behind successive hits on temples in Cuttack and other places in the last few months.
Pursuing leads from thefts in around five temples in Cuttack, the police traced the gang to Balasore and nabbed two key members and four receivers of the stolen valuables. Around 6.83 kg of silver and 65 gm of gold ornaments valued around `5 lakh were recovered from their possession, DCP Sanjeev Arora told mediapersons.
The arrested have been identified as Manas Patra and Kartika Sahoo, while two other members are on the run. Four Balasore-based jewellers Paltu Sasmal, Sushant Sahoo, Kamal Lochan and Harish Parida have been arrested for receiving the stolen goods and disposing them.
The gang pulled off heists in several districts but Cuttack, Balasore and Bhadrak remained its prime hunting zone. In the last one year, the gang staged successful thefts in at least five temples in Cuttack, four in Balasore and five in Bhadrak. While they were caught in connection with the Jhanjirimangala temple theft on December 27 night, their involvement has been found in Bhuasuni temple robbery at Bidanasi as recent as January 6 this year.
Police sources said the gang targeted ancient small temples so as to avoid major attention while laying hands on valuables.
On December 27 night, the gang struck on the 250-year-old Mangala temple at Jhanjirimangala and decamped with gold and silver ornaments to the tune of over Rs 4 lakh. The theft had all signs of pre-planning and knowledge of the temple precincts.
Besides, the burglars had carried out thefts in a temple at Shankarpur, Basanti Durga temple at Mangalabag, Sagadiasahi Mahavir temple and Bidanasi Bhuasuni temple in Cuttack. In Balasore, they had struck at Haripur Shiv temple, Balia tarini temple, Radhakrishna and Biranchi Narayan temple, Rameshwar Shiv temple, Goudya Matha and also at Tarini temple, Jogeswar Tarini temple, Bagurai Jagannath temple and Sialia Shiv temple in Bhadrak.