Theft of Precious Panchaloha Vigrahas – Christian pastor and his cronies under arrest

published on February 2, 2010

7 held for stealing panchaloha idols
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5525899,prtpage-1.cms

CHENNAI: Sleuths of the CB-CID’s idol wing on Sunday arrested seven persons, including a Christian priest and three traders, for stealing 11 panchaloha idols said to be worth about Rs 1 crore from various temples. While five idols were recovered from a river bed in Vellore district, one was seized from a Chennai lodge and the other five from a Puducherry shop. All the arrested were remanded in judicial custody on Monday.

Acting on a tip-off, the police raided a mansion in Periamet, nabbed the priest, K Immanuel alias Sasikumar of Vellore, K Madasamy of Tirunelveli and A Marichamy of Villupuram and recovered a panchaloha idol of Lord Krishna.

Special teams then rushed to Pallur village near Arakkonam in Vellore district and nabbed G Jagannathan alias Kithiyon and D Velu of Pallur who said that five idols had been buried on the Viruthaseera river bed. The police subsequently dug up the area on the river bed where the idols were buried and recovered them.

“The two then said five Jain idols had also been stolen from a Jain Temple in Easa Kolathur of Tiruvannamalai district and a team raided Marichamy’s handicrafts shop in Puducherry and recovered the idols. Another team arrested ex-convict P Pitchaimani from his house in Rajapalayam,” CB-CID additional director-general of police (Economic Offences Wing) G Thilagavathy said.

The stolen Jain idols, identified as those of the 23rd Tirthankara by a member of the community present at a press conference at the CB-CID EOW office here, each weighed 23 kg.

“Marichamy set up a handicrafts shop in Puducherry while Immanuel, who studied to become a priest, later founded a church in Pallur,” an idol wing officer said.

“After coming close to Madasamy and Pitchaimani, Immanuel identified dilapidated old temples and informed his associates,” another officer said.

“The idols were then stolen and handed over to Pitchaimani. Madasamy and Siva, another accused who is missing, then started stealing idols on their own and selling them to Marichamy,” the officer said.

The sleuths also arrested S Gangachalam of Udaiyarpalayam near Ariyalur and launched a hunt for ex-convict Vaithi for stealing three panchaloha idols from the Ariyalur Lakshmi Narayanan temple that were among the five recovered from the river bed in Vellore district.

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