Thanjavur: The police on Wednesday arrested a four-member gang involved in idol thefts at various places in and around Kumbakonam and recovered 26 ancient and exquisite stone and copper idols besides four thiruvasis (arch around an idol), all dating back to the Chola and Pallava era.
Following frequent incidents of idol theft from ancient temples in Kumbakonam, Swamimalai and Pasupathikoil recently, the police formed a special team under the direct supervision of DSP Silambarasan to investigate the issue.
On a tip-off, the police arrested Sasi alias Vijayendran, 33, of Melakottaiyur, near Kumbakonam, Bhagavathi, 23, of Mooppanvayal, near Kumbakonam, and Nagappan, 23, of Kumbakonam, and grilled them.
The trio spilled the beans that they had stolen idols from various temples around Kumbakonam and sold it to Balaji, 34, residing at Srinivasapuram, Thanjavur. Based on the information, the police conducted a surprise raid at Balaji’s house in Thanjavur and recovered the idols.
11 stone idols, 15 copper idols and four thirusais. Subsequently, Balaji was arrested. The recovered idols included that of Dhakshinamurthy, Chandikeswarar, Bhairavar and Lakshminarasimhar, said Silambarasan. Some of them belonged to the Chola and Pallava era, he added.
The stone idols ranged from 1 foot in height to 5.5 feet, while the copper idols measured from half-a-foot to 1 foot, the DSP informed.