MAYILADUTHURAI: A team from the Idol Wing CID of the Tamil Nadu police on Tuesday visited Veerateeswarar temple at Korukkai in the district and held an investigation in connection with the theft of an ancient Lord Shiva idol which has been currently traced to a museum in the USA.
A team including Additional SP G Balamurugan, DSP P Chandrasekar and Inspector RP Kavitha held inquiries at the temple and also verified the authenticity of 35 other idols housed there. "We conducted an elaborate investigation and confirmed that an idol of Shri Dakshinamurthy was missing and a replica was instead in its place. We also checked 35 other idols in the temple for their authenticity.
We will compare the idols with the stock images of the French Institute of Puducherry to confirm their authenticity," said Additional SP Balamurugan. The Idol Wing police as part of its ongoing audit at several temples in the delta region discovered the theft of the idol and traced its current location to the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio.
The idol, displayed as 'Shiva - Lord of Music' at the museum, dates back to a time between the ninth and thirteenth centuries. It is made of bronze, weighs 41.73 kg, and is 2.5 feet high. The museum had bought the idol from Doris Wiener Gallery in New York and had credited the idol's origin as 'Leonard C Hanna Jr Funds'. Leonard C Hanna (1889-1957) was a collector associated with the museum from 1915 until his death.
The Idol Wing police said it would use the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an agreement between countries for gathering and exchanging information to enforce public or criminal laws, to bring back the stolen idol. Joint efforts would be launched on behalf of the union ministries of external affairs, internal affairs and culture, and the Tamil Nadu home affairs department for the mission, they added.