The four men who were arrested in Sivaganga on charges of stealing idols from temples in the state have confessed that they had over the years smuggled several stone idols, sculptures and pillars to many foreign countries after declaring them to be handicrafts, investigators said.
It is alleged that all the four were supplying idols (after stealing them from ancient temples and other places) to Deenadayalan, who in turn smuggled it to foreign countries.
The arrested have been identified as Kanakaraj (62) of Karaikudi, Dinakaran (57), Selvaraj (55) and Periyanayagam. Among the four, Dinakaran and Selvaraj are reportedly ‘well known’ in idol trade cicuits and already have cases against him.
Preliminary inquiries revealed that the suspects had been supplying stone idols to Deenadayalan for three decades. All four run antique shops in Karaikudi.
Preliminary inquiries revealed that the gang had started a venture for selling old wooden structures and paintings from many houses at Karaikudi. They later developed contacts with Deenadayalan and began investing in getting ornamental pillars and stone idols from old and dilapidated temples.
In June this year, police unearthed huge quantity of idols in the house and godown of Deenadayalan. A few days after that, they were successful in arresting him.
Later, the idols and antiques that were seized were handed over to the court. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) officials and priests, who checked Deenadayalan’s collection, identified idols stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu.