The Idol Wing CID seized five ancient idols from a luxury store and art gallery located on Nungambakkam High Road and its department store in Thanjavur on charges of illegal possession and alleged involvement in the attempted sale up to 110 crores. Police also arrested two gallery staff and started a search for the owner. Following credible reports, Additional Police Director General, Idol Wing CID, K. Jayanth Murali, dispatched a special team of police officers to conduct a search at Cottage Industries Exposition Pvt. Ltd., Nungambakkam High Road. While searching the premises, the team discovered that the gallery was illegally selling ancient idols.
Mr. Jayanth Murali said The Hindu, “We did a thorough search and seized a 1,000-year-old idol of Nataraja. Many sales documents were seized there. Our investigation led to its branch in Thanjavur and also to the seizure of two other ancient idols, used in temples in East Asian countries. They are worth around 60 crore.
Idol Wing CID, Tiruchi, grabbed the two ancient idols of Vishnu with eight hands which were hidden at the Saga departmental store, Keelaraja Veedhi, Thanjavur.
The idols are Khmer style and are believed to have been purchased in Cambodia.
Mr Murali said: “Our investigation revealed that the owners of the gallery illegally purchased the ancient idols that were stolen from the temples. They also tried to display and sell them. These ancient idols would only be shown to genuine buyers. When we demanded antique certificates, they did not submit them. These people had been selling antique items to foreigners for 10 years.
Police arrested – S. Anand, from Thirunindravur, 45, who was the gallery manager, and S. Venkatesan, 47, from Kumbakonam, a cashier, and seized two other idols from them.
“We will investigate the trail of other items they have sold. We have launched a search to find the main suspects in the case. We have seized five idols, and we will have more seizures in the days to come, ”Murali said.
Police Superintendent, Idol Wing CID, R. Ponni said, “Those arrested said negotiations were underway to sell the Khmer-style Vishnu idols for 60 crore and the Nataraja idol for 50 crore.”