CUDDALORE: It was a normal Thursday afternoon. Out of nowhere, a police team zeroes in on two cars parked near Cuddalore head post office. And, the cops seize a panchaloha idol and arrest five persons after a brief chase. This is no gist of an action-packed thriller, but a real incident that happened in the heart of the city.
The entire episode took place in the midst of scores of surprised onlookers. On seeing the police team headed by Idol Wing IG Pon Manickavel, two persons in a car tried to run away, but the policemen managed to catch them after a brief chase. As many as five persons in the two cars were arrested by the police at gunpoint.
Sources said, when the police searched inside the car, they found a panchaloha Vinayaga idol measuring 1.5 feet in length.
The arrested persons have been identified as N Gnanasekaran (44) of Ariyankuppam in Puducherry, V Mugundhan (30) of Manjakuppam in Cuddalore, N Vinoth (31) of Mayiladuthurai, S Senthil (29) of Mayiladuthurai and A Raja (23) of Mangainallur near Mayiladuthurai.
Sources at the police department said, the raid follows a tip-off received by Cuddalore SP C Vijayakumar and Idol wing IG Pon Manickavel that an idol was being smuggled through Cuddalore. The police beefed up security and intensified vehicle checks. The team cornered the cars as it was moving suspiciously. After the preliminary inquiry, sources said, it had come to light that three persons had smuggled the idol from Mayiladuthurai and was about to hand it over to other two persons who had arrived at the spot in another car. Manickavel said the idol was probably stolen from Mayiladuthurai area.
“It could be approximately 1600 years old and might belong to Pallavas period. Only experts can give precise details about it. Worth of the idol will not be less than Rs 4 crore.
“So far, stolen idols worth Rs 150 crore had been recovered from foreign countries. Moreover, idols worth Rs 1,000 crore are yet to be recovered from countries such as US, Australia and Singapore.
We have identified the locations and the process to recover the idols is in progress. Importantly, no idol has been taken to foreign countries in the past four years, since we had broken the idol smuggling network and arrested the key persons.”