Less than a month after a nation-wide outrage over the theft of a priceless idol of Lord Mahavir from the Jamui temple led to its recovery on December 6, another big theft of Hindu idols has rocked Vaishali district of north Bihar.
Unidentified persons struck late night on Thursday to steal 14 big and small precious idols of Hindu deities from an ancient math (religious seminary) at Baligaon police station area in Vaishali district, about 40km north of state capital, Patna.
The stolen idols were installed at the over 200-year-old math and were estimated to be worth Rs 1 crore in the international antiques market. The New Year’s eve theft took place in Vaishali district’s Imadpur village under Baligaon police station.
The incident occurred just days after chief minister Nitish Kumar had directed the police to be pro-active in solving pending idol thefts and crack down heavily on those involved in such incidents.
The high antique value idols were taken away from Ram Janki math at Imadpur village under the Baligaon PS.
The stolen idols of Lord Rama and his consort Sita, brother Laxman, Hanuman and other associated deities were made of ‘astadhatu’ (eight expensive metals, including pure gold).
The theft was committed after tampering with the lock, which was put on the main gate of math. The criminals, taking advantage of dense fog, decamped with the idols after uprooting them from their base.
Informed about the theft, the Baligaon police and the circle inspector of Jandaha reached the math early morning on Friday and took details of the incident.
Chief priest of the math Shiv Shanker Thakur, who had been taking care of idols and performing religious rituals for a long time, detected the theft on Friday when he entered the math to clean the area where the idols were located.
Vaishali SP Rakesh Kumar told HT that one of the suspects, who had the key of main gate’s lock, was arrested and was interrogated to secure a breakthrough in the case.
A senior police official, preferring anonymity, said that more than 200 idols of different Hindu deities were stolen from different temples and maths of Bihar over the last five years.
The highest number of 65 idols was stolen in 2013 while lowest number of 13 idols was stolen in 2015.
“The theft of 14 idols from Vaishali’s Baligaon is the first such incident on the New Year’s day of 2016,” said police sources in Patna.
Citing the physical composition of ancient idols, a senior police source said most of the over 100 years old idols had been molded with an alloy of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, tin, iron and mercury of the purest chemical properties.
Sources said thefts of idols were reported from Gaya, Bhagalpur, Kishanganj, Vaishali, Begusarai, Saran, Smastipur, Jamui, Nalanda, Rohtas, Sitamarhi and Patna districts, among others.