Five of the six ancient panchaloha idols stolen from a Perumal temple near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district, have been recovered from Mahabalipuram, near Chennai, by a special police team. Three persons have been arrested in this connection.
Sources said that a few decades ago, some panchaloha idols, including that of Ramar, Lakshmanar, Sridevi, Boodevi and Guruvayoorappan, were unearthed near Yezhumeswaramudaiyar temple at Naalaaamchethi village near Vedaranyam in the district.
Later, when the Government decided to take the idols to Thanjavur, the villagers strongly opposed the move and demanded that the idols be kept at the Yezhumeswaramudaiyar temple itself. Following this, the idols were kept at that shrine itself.
Against this background, on April 1 this year, six panchaloha idols went missing from the Yezhumeswaramudaiyar temple and following a complaint from VAO Ilaiyaraja, the Voimedu Police registered a case.
On Tuesday, a special police team, led Vedaranyam ASP Sibichakravarthy, was carrying out a vehicle check in Vedaranyam area.
The team picked up two persons, identified as Kamalakannan (26) of Ammapettai in Thanjavur district and Dinesh (23) of Pulivalam in Tiruvarur district, who were found moving in a suspicious manner.
The duo, during enquiries, gave contradictory replies to queries of the police.
Upon further interrogation, the duo confessed to having stolen the idols from Yezhumeswaramudaiyar temple and selling them to one Padmanaban of Mahabalipuram.
The team rushed to Mahabalipuram and recovered five of the six stolen idols from Padmanaban and arrested him.
The special team is now conducting inquiries to trace the sixth idol.