Two more antique idols that of a standing Vishnu and a dancing Krishna, reportedly stolen from Tamil Nadu temple 50 years ago, were traced to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Christie’s USA, respectively, state Idol Wing CID said on Tuesday.
After verifying the photo images of standing Vishnu and dancing Krishna taken by the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and comparing them with the fake idols, the Idol Wing came to the conclusion that both the idols were stolen from the temple about 50 years ago and replaced with fake ones.
The two antique idols belonged to the ancient Sri Venugopala Swamy temple and Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple, Alathur, Thiruvarur district, respectively. They were kept in safe custody at the Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple from where they were stolen.
The idol wing had recently traced the Yoganarasimha and Ganesha idols to Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, and dancing Sambandhar to Norton Simon Museum, USA, and Somaskandar to Freer Sackler Washington, D.C, USA.
Continuing with the investigation, the Idol Wing recently “succeeded in painstakingly tracing the remaining two idols of dancing Krishna and standing Vishnu to the US museums,” a release said.
On February 28, 2017, S Nagarajan, Inspector, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department, Mannargudi, preferred a complaint with the Vikrapandiyam police station, Tiruvarur district, alleging that three antique bronze idols of Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi belonging to Sri Venugopala Swamy temple, kept in the Viswanatha Swamy temple for safe custody have gone missing.
The case was later transferred to the Idol Wing CID, and DSP Chandrasekaran, the investigating officer, through sustained investigation, traced all the three idols to a museum in Los Angeles in USA. The investigation also revealed that the three idols had been replaced with replicas and smuggled out of the country.
Learning about the modus operandi in robbing the three idols, the HR & CE suspected that some of the idols kept in safe custody at the Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple could also be replicas and had requested the Idol Wing to verify.
“Given the indisputable facts, the Idol Wing CID was duty bound to take necessary steps for retrieval of the antique idols. Based on the findings of our investigation, the idol wing has prepared a proposal under Mutual Legal Agreement Treaty (MLAT) proving the ownership of Tamil Nadu government over the stolen idols for repatriation of the same to Tamil Nadu,” Idol Wing DGP K Jayanth Murali said.
Both Murali and IGP Idol Wing Dhinakaran lauded the team which traced the idols.
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