The Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu police recently received a stolen ancient Hanuman idol from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It was retrieved from a private collector residing in Australia, who had purchased it in 2014 through an auction conducted by Christie’s. The bronze idol had been stolen from a temple in Ariyalur district in 2012.
In 2012, the Sri Varadharajaperumal Temple in Pottaveli Velur near Sendurai was robbed. Unidentified culprits broke into the temple and stole bronze idols of Varadharaja Perumal, Sridevi, Bhoodevi, and Hanuman. The case remained unsolved and was closed as 'undetected' by the local police. However, in 2020, the case was transferred to the Idol Wing.
The collector, a US citizen based in Australia had bought it at an auction in 2014 for $37,500. The US Embassy handed it over to the Australian government. The Indian government then brought it to the ASI in Delhi.
The idol would be returned to the temple after obtaining court orders, said Additional Director General of Police Sunil Yadav.
Meanwhile, regarding the return of stolen idols and other antique pieces, Union Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy said “The Prime Minister himself has discussed this matter with global leaders and many multilateral institutions, and today, innumerable countries are themselves reaching out to India to send back stolen artefacts and antiquities.”
He added that 231 antiquities had been brought back to India in the last 9 years, and about 72 are under process.
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