THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major haul, a special squad of the Forest Department on Monday seized sandalwood idols worth a staggering `1.5 crore from a residence at Muttathara here. The idols of Hindu deities were seized from sculptor Jayakumar, 46, of Puthuval puthen veedu, who has since been taken into custody.
And the haul effected by a team led by DFOs, J R Ani and B Santhosh Kumar, included Ganapathy idols, those of other Hindu deities, a three-and-a-half feet tall’Viswaroopam’ idol and small pedestals,besides sandalwood pieces.
According to a forest official, the search was conducted at around 3.30 pm following a tip-off. Jayakumar had been under the surveillance of the vigilance team for the last couple of days. “We raided the house after receiving clear information. During the raid, Jayakumar was alone at home and we seized the sandalwood sculptures. The accused had not kept any valid documents for keeping the sandalwood.”
“All the sculptures are believed to have been made for domestic as well as foreign clients . However, we need to interrogate him in detail about the source of the consignment. He will be produced before the Nedumangad Magistrate (forest offences) on Tuesday,” said S V Vinod, Palode Range officer.
It was over a year ago, that sandalwood idols worth around `7 crore were seized from Muttathara and four people were taken into custody. The officials also hinted that Muttathara had been become the nerve centre for illegal sandalwood, which was used to make handicrafts.
‘Eagle’ Rajan Taken to Malayattoor
Key accused in the elephant poaching case, Rajan alias ‘Eagle’ Rajan has been taken to Malayattoor for interrogation. The officials from Malayattoor Forest Range arrived at the Forest Department headquarters at Vazhuthacaud here on Monday and they took him to Malayattoor by noon. Rajan will be grilled there before being produced before the Magistrate. Rajan, the kingpin of the racket, who had been on the run since the investigation into the sensational case began, was nabbed from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport at around 7 pm on Sunday after arriving by an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah. He was later brought to the Forest Department HQ and subjected to a detailed interrogation.