The chief sthapathi (temple sculptor) of the Tamil Nadu (TN) government Padmashri M Muthaiah was arrested by the Idol wing of Tamil Nadu Crime Branch on Sunday (25 March).
The Times of India reported that the 74-year old sculptor was arrested on charges of causing a loss of Rs 1.31 crore to the government in the process of making an idol for the Palani Dandayudhapani temple in 2003-04. The sculptor was taken to Kumbakonam and will be produced before a court on Monday (26 March).
Muthiah, who made the idol at his facility in Kelambakkam, has been accused of stealing some of the gold meant for making the idol. A total 41 kg of waste had been generated while making the said idol, but no account had been provided for the quantity of gold in this wastage.
Experts from the Indian Institute of Madras were employed to scrutinise the contents of the idol which was sculpted in 2004 but had turned dark within six months and was shifted to a room in the temple. The daily reported that the idol which was to weigh 200kg had finally ended up weighing 220kg.
The Padma awardee is also an accused in the Kanchipuram Ekambareshwar gold theft case.