The police are conducting an inquiry into a complaint lodged by the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) that a statue and trident (“trishul”) were found “missing” in Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple during regular stock verification. As per the documents available, the idol and trident were handed over to a department in 1959 but the officials had no idea which department it belonged to.

Sources in the HR&CE department said that the fact that the idol and trident were missing came to their knowledge during regular stock verification conducted recently. The statue of Sri Dandayudhapani and the trident were marked in the property register being maintained from 1954 as handed over to some other department in 1959.

The temple had 112 statues in 1954 and at present it has 110 statues all made from copper and bronze alloys. However, there is no description of the metal or material that these two were made of. During previous stock verifications these two idols were marked “X”.

The other Dandayudhapani idol in the safe custody is made of copper. The statues were registered with the ASI in 1982 and 1987 when they were photographed and description noted and certified. “Recently, we weighed all the statues and have made the certificates into eight volumes. As far as the missing statue and trident are concerned, we have preferred a complaint with the police,” the official said.

R. Ponni, Superintendent of Police, Tiruvannamalai, said the Joint Commissioner of HR and CE lodged a complaint on this issue. “This is not a case of theft. As per handwritten documents, the idol and trident were handed over to a department in 1959. The idol and trident were not returned to the temple,” she said. The Tiruvannamalai Town (Crime) police have initiated an inquiry.

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