Idol thefts in ancient Tamil Nadu temples are getting murkier day-by-day with the revelation of the involvement of the government officials — Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR & CE) Department officials.
After the arrest of two cops, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police, in connection with an idol theft that took place in Madurai in 2008, the idol wing of Tamil Nadu police has registered FIR against 11 people, including senior HR & CE Department officials in connection with the theft of six Panchaloha idols from two temples in Thanjavur district.
The involvement of the police and temple officials in the idol theft in different cases has come as a great shock.
Six idols, which date back to 1,500 years, were stolen from two temples — Pasupatheeswarar Temple at Pandanallur in Thiruvidaimaruthur taluk and Idumbeshwarar temple at Shri Rangarajapuram — in the theft that involves HR & CE officials.
In the report submitted to the Madras HC, the idol wing police said they registered a case against 11 persons, including Gajendran, Joint Commissioner of HR & CE in Mayiladuthurai, Gnanasekaran, assistant commissioner of HR & CE in Kumbakonam, K Kamaraj, executive officer of Pasupatheeshwarar temple, K Raja, head clerk of the Pasupatheeshwarar temple, Sekar Gurukkal and Jagatheesh Gurukkal, and a temple employee, apart from the trustees of the Pasupatheeshwarar temple Pasupathi Pillai, Manohar Pillai, Ramachandran and Saravanan.
Inspector General of Police Pon Manickavel, who was reappointed by the Madras High Court as the investigating officer in the idol theft cases, and his team probed these two thefts and found out the smugglers and their helpers. The investigation revealed that HR & CE officials failed to notify their higher officers and lodge a police complaint after knowing about the missing idols, which is worth crores of rupees. The idols were stolen in 2013.