VILLUPURAM: An unidentified four-member gang escaped with a three-ft tall idol despite being stopped by police at the Kengarampalayam checkpost near Valavanur midnight on Friday.
Police suspect that the idol is one of the three Panchaloha idols stolen from the Sri Raja Narayana Perumal temple near Kallakurichi on Friday.
According to sources, a police team led by Valavanur Special Sub-inspector Muthukannu was checking vehicles at the check-post when they stopped an MUV heading toward Villupuram from Puducherry. Upon checking the vehicle, officials found the the four men were hauling a 3-foot tall metal idol, wrapped in cloth.
When the police officials were in the process of seizing the idol, one of the passengers said it was the Villupuram CB-CID SI’s vehicle and gave his mobile phone to SSI Muthukannu claiming that the CBCID-SI was on the line.
The man on the other end introduced himself as the Villupuram CB-CID, SI and directed Muthukannu to let the vehicle go with the idol.
SI Muthukannan returned the idol to the gang and let the vehicle go as directed. Later, when they contacted the SP’s camp of the CBCID wing, they learned that they had been duped into letting the gang escape.
Police patrols in the district have been intensified after the incident. A search is on to nab the miscreants, who escaped with the idol.
It must be noted that three panchaloha idols, said to be 1,000 years old and worth nearly Rs 10 lakh, were stolen from Sri Raja Narayana Perumal temple in Kooghaiyur village on the outskirts of Kallakurichi in the wee hours of Friday.
According to Duraisamy (40) president of Kooghaiyur village, it is a custom of the villagers to borrow these idols from the nearby Sri Soornaburiswarar temple on certain occasions and keep them at the Raja Narayana temple for poojas. For the past three months, the idols were kept at the temple for its consecration.
The idols, weighing totally 20 kg, were found missing by the priest who came to open the temple for the day’s puja in the morning.