A gang of unidentified miscreants robbed gold ornaments worth Rs 25 lakh, including gold tilaks on the foreheads of idols, from Sri Vasupoojya Swami Jain temple on Akkipet Main Road in Bangalore early Sunday morning.
The gang escaped with the loot after rendering five temple security guards unconscious by allegedly using chloroform-soaked rags. They also damaged six CCTV cameras on the temple premises.
According to Cottonpet police, the burglars, their faces covered with handkerchiefs, gained entry into the temple by breaking open the back door around 2.30 am. The gang attacked security guards Nagveer Bahadur, Jangveer Bahadur, Lal Bahadur, Kamesh Bahadur and Prakash Bahadur who were on duty.
They lifted a few things from the temple, robbed cash from the office room and the donation box in the sanctum sanctorum. Gold jewellery and ornaments kept in a cupboard in the priest’s room were also stolen.
The incident came to light around 5 am on Sunday when temple priest Suresh Poojari came to open the temple. He saw the guards lying unconscious and the premises ransacked. Poojari immediately called the temple trustee who, in turn, informed the Cottonpet police.
Kantilal Jain, a temple trustee, said, “The incident has shocked the community. In a day or two, a decision will be taken to hire security guards from a reputed firm. The other trustees are taking care of those guards who are hospitalised,” he said.
“There were 16 CCTV cameras installed in the temple. The miscreants cut the wires of six cameras. Recordings from the other CCTVs show them with their faces covered,” he said.
Kantilal said they took gold jewellery from a box. The priest used to keep the ornaments in the room adjacent to the temple after finishing the last pooja of the day.
“The robbers also broke a box in temple office room and stole `3 lakh,” Kantilal said.
Police said the miscreants attacked the guards on duty and went to a room where the other two guards were sleeping. The finger prints of the robbers were found near the priest’s room.
The accused seem to have studied the temple premises before attempting the robbery. Police have not ruled out the possibility of it being an insider job.
Guards recovering in hospital
Dr M Shivaswamy, medical superintendent, Victoria Hospital said three security guards were recovering well while two were under close observation in the ICU. “They are all very drowsy due to the high levels of sedation. We are yet to find out the substance used to render them unconscious,” he said. They are all out of danger, he added.
It is not the first time that a Jain temple has been targeted by robbers. A heist was reported in Mangalore on July 5 where 15 idols of gold with pearls, diamonds and other precious stones were stolen from Siddantha Mandir of Guru Basadi in Moodbidri, popularly known as “Jain Kashi”, about 35 km from Mangalore. The shrine had 64 idols. Minister K Abhayachandra Jain has appealed to the government to refer the theft of 12 archaeologically important statues from Jain Basadi to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Inter-state idol thief Ghanshyam Das alias Santosh Santosh Das was arrested in this connection.