JAYANKONDAM: Two US Homeland Security officers on Saturday inspected two temples in Ariyalur district and conducted inquiries with locals about idols stolen from the shrines.
Also Read: Consecrate Stolen Idol, Say locals
The officers, accompanied by idol wing inspectors and an official working with the US embassy in New Delhi, inspected the two temples in the villages of Sithamalli and Sri Puranthan, from where the idols were stolen by smugglers many years ago.
A police source said, “After the arrest of Subash Kapoor, the kingpin of the idol smuggling racket two years ago, his art gallery in America was sealed and the idols in the gallery seized. Now the process of identification of temples in Tamil Nadu from where the idols were stolen is being carried out by the US officials so that the idols could be returned.”
The source added, “The US officials are correlating the photos of the seized idols with clues and evidence given by the locals. They are also taking note of the exact spot in the temples where the idols were placed before being stolen. Once these documentation works and formalities are completed, the idols will be returned to India.”
Sri Puranthan village elder Govindaraj showed a photo of Lord Natarajar and another idol of the temple to the
officials. The villagers told them that a total of eight idols had been stolen and only the Natarajar idol has been recovered. Similarly, some idols were stolen from a temple at Sithamalli village but none has been found so far.
The US officials took photos of all the spots in the temple. The source said three idols that are presently in the US seemed to match the details provided by the residents of Sri Puranthan.