Bhubaneswar: Temples across Odisha have turned soft targets for idol smugglers while the cops seem busy patting their own backs by arresting some local conduits only. Odisha has been rapidly losing its millennia old heritage due to the shoddy and inept approach of the police in cases of idol theft. In the latest case of temple theft, unknown miscreants decamped with seven precious octo-alloy (Ashtadhatu) idols from the Laxminarayan temple inside the Maa Tankapani temple premises in Balianta area on the outskirts of the city here Sunday night.
Sources claimed that the 500-year-old antique idols worth over Rs 40 lakh will be valued in crores at the international markets.
Priest Pramod Panda spotted the temple’s back gate broken and some idols missing Monday morning. Surprisingly, the smugglers did not take gold and silver ornaments with them.
After being informed, Balianta police along with a forensic team reached the spot and started investigation. Some villagers said that the smugglers came by a car Sunday night. It should be stated here that in the last few months there have been five cases of thefts in temples in locality. In spite of that security has not been beefed up.
“Police have started the probe by registering a case in this regard. The forensic team also examined and collected evidences from the spot. We have received similar reports of idol theft in the past too. We have constituted a special team to exclusively deal with idol theft cases,” DCP Prateek Singh informed.
Sources said 11 temple theft cases have been reported from several localities in Puri district between January and March, 2022. During this period, the miscreants have reportedly decamped with 30 idols from various temples in the district.
“Idol thefts are rampant in the state and it is also rising constantly. However, the detection is extremely poor in the cases as it is an organised crime,” Amiya Bhushan Tripathy, former Director General of Police and the state convener of INTACH, told Orissa POST.
“The accused who stole the idols from temples are just conduits. They hand over the idols to others in the chain who in turn smuggle them outside state. It needs specialised and dedicated investigation,” added the former top cop. He also alleged that the idol cell at the Crime Branch turned defunct.