Kirsten Paisley, deputy director, NGA, along with the officials of the Australian Consul General met Tamil Development Minister Ma Foi K Pandiarajan and IGP of idol wing AG Pon Manickavel at the Secretariat to gather information on the issue of the provenance of Indian artefacts at the NGA.
After the meeting, Pandiarajan told media representatives that the Tamil Nadu team had presented information on the antiquity of the idols, their origin, temple locations and even literary evidence about the seven idols to the Australian authorities.
The minister said he was hopeful of recovering the stolen idols from Australia at the earliest and pointed to the existence of an extradition treaty between India and Australia to recover such artefacts.
The sculptures are a pair of 12th century ‘Dwarabalagar’ from the Pandia period; Chola era 12th century bronze idol of dancing child-saint Sambandar, Aarumugam stone idol and granite Nandi; a 11th century bronze statue of a trident with auspicious Kali (Bhadrakali) from the Chola period; and a 1,000-year-old antique dancing Sambandar idol.
The Tamil Nadu Idol Wing police have booked seven persons, including notorious artefacts smuggler Subhash Kapoor, Vallavaprakash and Aditya Prakash of Indo Nepal Art Centre in Mumbai and Nachu alias Lakshmi Narasimman of Silpa Vatika Gallery, in connection with the theft, smuggling and illegal export of idols, including these seven idols.
Two years ago, Australia had returned three artefacts, including an idol of goddess Pratyangira, stolen from a temple of Lord Siva in Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu. In 2014, then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had returned two idols of Nataraja and Ardhanareeswarar stolen from TN temples.
Idol Wing announces reward for information leading to ex-official
The Idol Wing police announced a reward of Rs 20,000 here on Wednesday for those who give information about absconding HR&CE ex-official Dhanapal involved in the Palani idol scam. According to the Idol Wing sleuths, when Dhanapal was Commissioner of the HR & CE Department, he was involved in misappropriation of gold in the making of Lord Muruga idol at the Dhandayuthapaniswamy Temple in Palani. Interrogation found that Dhanapal along with other temple staff had cheated 4.200 kg gold and the police arrested four persons, including chief Sthapathi Muthaiah and official Raja. Against this backdrop, the Idol Wing police called the then HR and CE Commissioner Dhanapal for inquiry. As he evaded inquiry, a special team was formed to arrest Dhanapal. When he applied for bail in the Madurai Bench of the Madras HC, it was rejected. Meanwhile, the police announced the reward of Rs 20,000 for those who give them information about his whereabouts.