The Idol theft wing of the CB-CID of the Tamil Nadu Police is on the lookout for a global idol stealing racket with roots in the state after the arrest of a Kashmiri businessman, Javed Shah from Mamallapuram.
Shah was arrested on Tuesday after idols worth Rs 35-40 crore were seized from his shop.
Eleven idols, including 8 antique pieces, were on Tuesday seized from the shop following a tip-off received by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Idol wing of Tamil Nadu Police, Jayanth Murali.
A special police team was constituted and conducted a search at Indian Handicrafts Emporium, which is owned by Javed Shah, a Kashmiri businessman. Police team conducted raids and took in possession several idols and on inspection found that eight were antique pieces and Shah did not have a license to sell these idols from his shop.
The arrest was recorded on Tuesday and an Idol of goddess Parvathi, which was a rare and antique piece was recovered from him. The seized idols included Lord Krishna playing flute, ten-headed Ravana, and other antique pieces.
It may be noted that the Tamil Nadu idol wing is on the lookout for several antique pieces of idols that were stolen from many temples of South India. An emerald Sivalingam was recently seized from a bank locker of an octogenarian after a tip-off and police are ascertaining whether the antique idol pegged at Rs 500 crore in international market was the one that was stolen from a temple at Aluva in Kerala.
Police have already constituted a special team and said that Javed Shah may be the tip of the iceberg and that bigger players with direct international connections are behind this.
The Tamil Nadu Police in a statement said that several people are under the scanner and a concerted effort was taking place to unearth several old temple breakings. The habitual offenders, who are experts in idol burglary, are being questioned to get tip-offs about their first contacts, further said the police.