Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Police has seized around 500 stolen antique idols of Hindu deities from an alleged smuggler, masquerading as an art collector. Many of the idols are over a thousand years old. The idols recovered include 254 ancient stone idols, 54 panchaloha idols, 28 wooden artefacts and 151 antique art works on canvas.
Investigators claim 84-year-old Deenadhayalan who runs an art gallery in Chennai's Alwarpet area is the kingpin of the alleged smuggling racket. Police have arrested three of his agents and have secured his home that doubled up as an art gallery besides two of his other godowns in Chennai.
"An archaeological expert has confirmed that these belong to the Chola period at least thousand years old. Antique idols are supposed to be in temples or with the government not in anyone's home. We have lots of documentary evidence," Inspector General of Police AG Pon Manickavel said.
Police also suspect that Mr Deenadhayalan was involved in smuggling of antiques from the US and Europe as handicrafts bought from government owned outlets at a huge price. Many temple administrators from several parts of Tamil Nadu are now checking if their missing idols have been recovered. Police are also reopening an old case against Mr Deenadhayalan. However, Mr Deenadhayalan has not been arrested as he is cooperating with the police in the investigation.]]>