CHENNAI: A six-century-old Athi Kesava Perumal temple in a village in Tiruvannamalai district got back its three main idols stolen earlier this year. They were worth Rs 30 crore in the international market.
The idols were recovered after the Idol Wing trapped and arrested a small-time production manager and recovered eight antique idols from him in an operation, which was the biggest haul in the past five years.
The Egmore Metropolitan Magistrate II Satya, who heard the petition for return of property from the temple representatives, ordered the return of the idols which were in the custody of the wing. The court directed the temple authorities to produce the idols before the court, when called for.
The eight idols, including that of Perumal, Sridevi and Boodevi, were recovered and returned to Vijayaragavan, trustee vof the temple in Soundaryapuram in Vandavasi taluk.
Speaking to Express, Vijayaragavan said the idols were stolen on January 10 this year and a complaint was registered with Vandavasi North police station.
“We heard from the Idol Wing about the recovery and moved the court, seeking return of the idols to continue our worship in the temple and it was granted,” he said.
On June 17, four idols-Perumal, Sridevi, Boodevi, and Sakkarathalvar-which were part of the loot recovered, had been returned to Prasanna Venkateshwara Perumal temple in Paiyur village, which lies only 2 km away from Athi Kesava Perumal temple.
“We still have one more idol left from the major haul-Sivan and Parvathi, both on a single pedestal and in a sitting posture, which belongs to Manikandeeswarar temple in Ramanujapuram village in Sunguvarchatram in neighbouring Kancheepuram,” said a senior police official from the Idol Wing.
“HR&CE inspector Poonkodi, representing the temple, has sought the return of the idol from the court and that petition is coming up for hearing on June 29,” the official said.