COIMBATORE: Coimbatore city police arrested two gold merchants while they were trying to sell a piece of an ancient Panchaloha idol, suspected to have been stolen from a temple. Police also formed a special team to recover the remaining parts of the idol.
The arrested persons are U Hari alias Jayachandran (36), a resident of Sullivan Street, and M Balavenkatesh (36) from Amul Nagar in Selvapuram. Both are gold merchants and running their business in Coimbatore city, police said.
On Sunday early morning around 1 am, a police team attached with Variety Hall Road police station was on patrol. The duo was waiting near Telugu Street - Idayar Street Junction. On seeing the police vehicle, they tried in vain to flee the place.
Police caught them and found that the duo had a piece of Panchaloha idol (believed to be a right wrist of a woman deity) with them.
During questioning, the duo revealed that it was separated from an antique idol and they bought it from one Thirunavukkarasu from Oddanchatram in Dindigul district.
"The person gave the piece of an idol to the duo to sell it at a high price and take a commission. We suspect that he could have a connection with idol smugglers," said a police officer.
The two were booked under sections of 380 (2) (for idol theft) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of IPC and remanded in judicial custody on Sunday evening.
"We have formed a special team to trace the prime suspect Thirunavukkarasu and informed the idol wing of Tamil Nadu police for further investigation, the officer said.
Meanwhile, the city police have planned to seek the help of the Archeology department to examine the piece of the statue to ascertain its age, the officer added.