UK hands over 3 idols stolen from Tamil Nadu temple to Indian government
It was proved that the idols belonged to the Vijayanagara period and stolen from Sri Rajagopalaswami Temple at Ananthamangalam in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu
A set of three idols which were stolen back in 1978 from a temple in Tamil Nadu has finally been returned to the Indian government. According to a report by NDTV, a collector in the United Kingdom voluntarily offered to hand it back after coming to know that it was stolen.
The report states that the collector matched the three idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana with archival photographs from the 1950s held at the French School in Pondicherry. It was proved that the idols belonged to the Vijayanagara period and stolen from Sri Rajagopalaswami Temple at Ananthamangalam in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.
Tim Wright, from the Metropolitan Police, said the voluntary handover of the idols highlight two enforcement issues. “The need for effective communication and dialogue, and the proper documentation of all cultural heritage, which would not only act as a deterrent to thefts but also help as evidence without which the outcome of this case may have been very different,” he said.
A short religious ceremony for the idols’ handover streamed from India House in London was conducted by priests from the Sri Murugan Temple.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar lauded the successful completion of the search and rescue operation of the beautiful idols.
Kumar said they wanted to ensure the deities were handled with due reverence and propriety before they were shipped back to India. “On behalf of the government of Indian, I hope this will inspire museums and collectors to carefully look and check their collections and help us restore deities that belong to the people of India and have been worshipped for centuries,” the report quoted her saying.