CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Idol Wing has recovered over 74 idols which went missing in 17 different cases within a span of 18 months. Several of the idols have been traced to different countries and most of them are under process to be brought back to India through the respective embassies.
On Monday morning, the Idol Wing officers raided an export company in Kilpauk that exports sculptures and antique pieces to other countries. They seized four missing pieces of ancient value — one panchaloha statue of Amman, two ancient stone sculptures of Amman, and one Lord Krishnan painting. The officers arrested B Subramaniam (58), who is the owner of the export company for allegedly smuggling the products out of India.
During the press meet, the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Abhay Kumar Singh said that the department has seized about 74 idols connected with 17 cases throughout the State and have arrested 18 people, from 2020 to July 26, 2021.
“Of the 74, 60 idols are panchaloha and 14 are stone sculptures which were stolen from several temples and museums in the State. Because of the ancient value, the idols were smuggled to foreign countries and sold for extravagant prices,” said Abhay Kumar Singh.
In 1985, five statues went missing from Narasimha Nathar temple in Tenkasi under the Vadayam police jurisdiction. The Antiquities Trafficking Team of New York have identified two of the five statues in the USA and are under the protection of the local law enforcement until the transport is cleared by the embassy.
Similarly, in 2017, six statues which went missing from the Viswanathar Temple in Thiruthuraipoondi in Thanjavur have been identified in the USA. The six statues - Narashimar, Krishna, Ganesha, Samandar, Somasundar and Vishnu - are in the due process to be brought to India, said ADGP Abhay Kumar Singh.
“About 30 years ago, six statues were stolen from a temple in Veera Cholapuram in Sivagangai. With the help of old forensic photographs, all six statues have been identified and are to be brought to India through the Indian Embassy in the US,” said the ADGP.
He said in the first of it’s kind, a magistrate from Kumbakonam court had a video conference with Mathew Bogdonas, the Assistant District Attorney of Manhattan in New York. They interviewed a prime witness to the case and two statues connected to an old case were recovered.