KENDRAPARA: Kendrapara police claimed to have busted an idol-lifting racket by arresting the former priest of a mutt in Jajpur here on Tuesday. The accused was identified as 27-year-old Ananda Das alias Chua Baba of Japa village within Jajpur’s Erasama police limits. As many as four stolen ancient idols were seized from his possession. Das was working as a priest in the Olasuni Mutt in Jajpur but reportedly fled last year after committing a theft there.
Sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Kendrapara Jayant Mohapatra said Das had looted four idols from a temple at Talakusuma village on June 8. “Acting on a tip-off, we arrested the accused from Kudanagari and seized four idols from him. During interrogation, he confessed to have looted ancient idols from various temples and religious places in Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur districts posing as a priest since he had easy access to those places,” Mohapatra added.
A case under sections 457 and 380 of the IPC was registered and further investigation is underway to apprehend others involved in the racket, the SDPO informed. On January 26 this year, Kendrapara police had arrested six idol lifters and seized nine ancient idols from their possession. Similarly, four years back, Nischintakoili police had busted an inter-state idol lifter gang and arrested two key members besides recovering a rare stone Buddha idol stolen from a temple at Buhalo village, from their possession.