The Tamil Nadu (TN) government has issued a government order transferring all idol theft cases in the state to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The order comes soon after it sprung a surprise by informing the Madras High Court that it has taken a policy decision to hand over all pending idol theft cases in the state to the CBI, Pudhiya Thalaimurai TV reported.
However, the decision has met with criticism with those following the cases closely pointing out that the idol theft wing of Tamil Nadu police has been doing a great job under the charge of inspector general of police Pon Manickavel.
Critics of the TN government say that Manickavel has helped crack over 50 cases and recovering 20 idols. The feather in the cap of his efforts are the recovery of idols of Raja Raja Chola and his consort Lokamadevi.
All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) spokesman Vaigai Selvan, however, confirmed the transfer of cases, saying that Manickavel's handling of the cases were not satisfactory.
Leader of the Opposition and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working President M K Stalin said Tamil Nadu Government had an ulterior motive in issuing the order. Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko was among the first demanding that Manickavel be asked to continue probing the idol theft cases. Pattali Makkal Katchi Youth Wing leader and member of Parliament Anbumani Ramadoss, too, said the state government should shelve its move to hand over the probe to the CBI.
Under Manickavel, the idol wing has cracked down on corruption at the Palani Murugan and the Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar temples. The investigation has resulted in a few arrests, the latest being the arrest of M Kavitha, additional commissioner in the Hindu Religious and Charities Endowment (HR&CE) Department, that has been questioned by the High Court.
Manickavel was appointed by the Madras High Court last year to head the investigations into missing and stolen idols. The Tamil Nadu Government’s move comes at the heels of a spat between Manickavel and HR&CE Commissioner R Jaya. In June this year, the Madras High Court bench hearing the idol theft cases, Justices R Mahadevan and P D Audikesavuly - made it clear that it will not brook any interference in the case.
With the TN government going ahead with its order, the High Court will now look into the details of various cases that Manickavel has been asked to submit and decide if the idol wing should continue its investigation.
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