Piqued over incessant complaints of ancient idol thefts being reported in the State, Justice R. Mahadevan of the Madras High Court on Wednesday warned the State government that he would be constrained to order a Central Bureau of Investigation probe if the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department does not spring into action.
The judge took serious note of a complaint made by Rangarajan Narasimhan of Tiruchi alleging theft of several precious artefacts from Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam and recent newspaper reports of a Panchaloga (a traditional five metal alloy) idol having been stolen from the famous Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai district.
“It is a very sorry state of affairs in the State. This is totally unacceptable. The petitioner [Mr. Narasimhan] has been repeatedly approaching the government officials, but not an inch has moved. If idols are missing from each and every temple, then we will have to ask the CBI to probe into it. Why should there be a HR&CE department at all?” the judge asked.
‘Unaware of complaint’
Replying to it, HR&CE counsel S.P. Maharajan said the petitioner had been making repeated complaints only to the police and not to the officials of the department which he was representing. “Now that we have come to know of his complaint, we shall take immediate action. I will ask the officials to start finding out the veracity of his claim right now,” he said.
On his part, State Public Prosecutor (in-charge) C. Emilias sought time till Friday to obtain instructions from the Idol Wing Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) sleuths on the steps taken by them so far on the complaints lodged with regard to alleged theft of artefacts from the Sri Ranganthaswamy Temple.
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