December 24, 2020: Stealing the priceless idols has been a very prominent crime over the centuries in India. The recent inclusion to this list is the idol theft from a 13th century Shiva temple in Khurda district, Odisha, late on Monday night, which is all over the news.
Statement of the police on the idol theft
Police say some unidentified culprit gushed into the sanctum sanctorum of the 800-year-old Daksha Prajapati temple in Banpur town of Khurda district by breaking open the locks of three doors and ran away with the precious idols worth crores of rupees. The idols were made of ashtadhatu, an alloy of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, tin, iron and mercury.
Banpur Police Inspector Sanjay Patnaik said out of the 31, only 22 idols have been stolen.
The idols that were stolen include Maa Kanaka Durga, Gopinath Dev, Kaliyugeswar Dev and Chandrasekhar Dev.
The temple is named after Daksha. Daksha is the father of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati and the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is prominently known for its architectural composition and has been under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The theft is not the very first instance; there have been two instances of theft from the same temple twice in the past.
Statement of State Project Coordinator of INTACH
INTACH’s state project coordinator and historian Anil Dhir, who earlier this year published a report on the ‘Antiquities of the Prachi Valley’, said more than 300 valuable idols were found missing in different places of the state.
He expressed his concern and said, “Odisha has become a major hub for idol export. Nearly 48 cases regarding missing idols were filed in different police stations of the Prachi Valley in the last decade and only one recovery was made. There were 20 cases of idol theft in the last decade in Bhadrak, but not a single recovery was made.”
State convener of INTACH statement
State convener of INTACH, Amiya Bhusan Tripathy said the current laws are ineffective to prevent idol thefts and burglary.
Tripathy added: “A holistic National Heritage Protection Policy and system should be put in place. Though there are 22,000 ancient places of worship in Odisha, there is no database for all the antiques, both stone and metallic idols. Inconsequential and weak legislations like the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act and the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 are ineffective to curb these crimes.”