Chennai. TamilNadu idol wing officials have seized 55 antique idols from the house of art collector Shobha Durairajan at Raja Annamalaipuram in Chennai. Police suspect the idols were stolen from temples across the country. Durairajan had come under police scrutiny in the past and officials had seized idols from her house in December.
Media reports, quoting senior police official said, “Durairajan has been in the US since last year. She will return in September, and once she does, we will conduct inquiries and take action.”
Idol wing’s Shailesh Kumar said, “On Wednesday, we received a tip-off, following which a special team conducted searches at the house.”
According to police, Shobha Durairajan told them that collecting antique artefacts was her hobby and that she had purchased the idols from alleged idol smuggler Deenadayalan of Aparna Art Gallery between 2008 and 2015. Officials said the idols might belong to the 9th or 10th century CE and have sought help from the Archeological Survey of India to identify them.
“A total of 64 idols, which were stolen, have been found in foreign countries. Idols traced to the US, Australia, Singapore and England have been identified with the help of Indians living in those countries. Steps are being taken to retrieve the idols. Singapore has agreed to return 16 idols,” DGP C Sylendra Babu told, appreciating the efforts of the idol wing officials.
The idols seized from Durairajan’s house include a Varahi, Veerabadra, Dhakshinamoorthy, Vishnu, Durga, Murugan with consort, Vishnu Lakshmi, Lingothbhavar, Ganapathy, Mahishasura Mardhini and Buddha. “Since the inception of the idol wing, as many as 1,541 stolen antique idols of bronze and stone have been recovered and kept safely at 19 icon centres. Armed police personnel are guarding them and CCTV surveillance has been also provided. We will investigate who was involved in the theft and nab them. We have seized over 300 idols in the last two years,” Sylendra Babu said.