Church burglary a State issue, Temple loots devotees issue!

published on July 7, 2007

Temples lack effective security system


KOCHI: Even though there has been a steady increase in temple theft cases in the state, the most intriguing fact is that most of the temples don’t have any effective security system.

Even thefts are happening in places where watchmen are present, like in the case of Thiruvalloor Mahadeva temple.

There are over 25 thieves in the state who specialise in temple thefts.

They usually go for idols and have good connection with inter-state gangs.

On the other hand, local thieves opt for the simple way of looting from temple hundies.

Posing as devotees, they study the layout of the temple in the morning and break open at night. Police say these thieves are always in constant contact with certain people suspected to be middlemen of antique collectors.

In temples where idols are stolen, new idols are made after conducting special poojas after seeking advice from astrologers.

The old gods get replaced with new ones after spending a good amount of money. But the grace and elegance of the old idols never get replaced.

Instead, the old idols, which till the other day drew the attention of devotees, will remain in a rich man’s antique collection somewhere in the world, sans archanas.

“In Kochi city, thefts are really low as almost all the temples are situated in highly populous areas. There is always night patrolling and the police are able to give special attention to places where the chances of theft are high, unlike in the case of rural areas. Once the idol crosses the border, it is hard for the police to trace,” says City Police Commissioner Manoj Abraham.

Police officials associated with temple theft cases point out that lack of supervision on the part of temple administrators is also a reason for the increase in temple thefts in the state.

“They hail them and offer prayers, but seldom care about the safety of their gods,” says a police official.

But Hindu organisations seem to differ. “The government has to take the moral responsibility for the increasing temple thefts. If it was any other place of worship everyone would be interested. One after the other, every politician visits the religious houses of other faiths, but here even the temple theft squads formed to probe burglaries are disbanded.

If this continues, then devotees themselves might come forward to protect temples,”
says Kummanam Rajashekaran, state president of Hindu Aikya Vedi. “For that, people have to take law in their hands,” he says.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had recently said in the Assembly amidst many assurances that temple theft squads would be strengthened.

Caught in the whirlwind of assurances and figures, the plight of gods continues to be miserable in a state hailed as God’s own country.


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