CHENNAI: Sleuths of the Idol Wing of the State police continued their search on the premises owned by prime suspect Dheenadayalan (84) and seized 50 more idols and about 30 paintings from two other places on Saturday.
The Idol Wing police are already in possession of more than 100 stone idols recovered from the octogenarian’s house in Alwarpet. Three persons have already been arrested in the case and the main suspect had also surrendered with them after being on the run for three days.
Meanwhile, searches continued in his godown in Venus Colony and in another property at Murray Gate road in Alwarpet, from where the remaining idols were stolen.
“The recovered items from the godown were stone idols and also some high-quality wood carvings. We suspect them to be from temples in Karnataka. Another 30 paintings were recovered from the other property,” said a police officer.
More than 100 idols, including 71 stone idols, 41 panchaloha idols and paintings numbering more than 75 are already in the possession of the Idol Wing police. The raids which started on May 31 have been throwing up new leads every other day with the police recovering more idols from the suspects.
The suspect Deenadayalan had stocked the idols stolen from temples across the State and from Karnataka at his bungalow on Murrays Gate Road in Alwarpet and had planned to smuggle them out of the country, police said. A native of Andhra Pradesh, he had set up an art gallery in his wife’s name in Chennai in 1965 and eventually entered the smuggling business.
He is said to be involved with notorious idol smuggler, Subash Kapoor, now lodged in Puzhal Prison. “In fact, he helped Subash in smuggling the famous Ardhanaareshwarar stone idol from Virudhagireeswarar temple in Cuddalore, which was sold for an amount of three million dollars to a gallery in Australia in 2004,” a police officer said.