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Rs 30-lakh midnight heist at Saketri temple

The campus, which is in Saketri, has a total of seven temples. Other than the underground temple, burglars made off with valuables at other six by breaking their locks, police said.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2018 16:32 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Haryana temple,burglars strike at temple,Shiv temple
The temple, situated in Saketri near Panchkula, has 32 CCTV cameras installed inside its campus.(Sant Arora/HT)

Burglars took away jewellery and valuables worth over ₹30 lakh from the historic Shiva Temple in Saketri on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday.

The entire theft was captured on the 32 CCTV cameras installed on the temple’s campus that has seven temples dedicated to various deities.

Thieves gained entry into six of these temples by simply breaking the loops of the door latches. Being in the basement, the seventh temple is not easily accessible from the temple precinct, and remained untouched.

The masked men stole whatever gold and silver ornaments and valuables they could lay their hands on, besides ₹8,000 in cash, but did not attempt to open the donation boxes.

As per the CCTV footage, the theft occurred between 1:30am and 2:30am, said Bhagwan Das, SHO of Mansa Devi police station, under whose jurisdiction the temple falls. A priest, Buddhi Valabh, was the first to notice the theft when he went to one of the temples around 4.45am. Valabh sounded the head priest, Ram Lal, before informing the temple’s governing body who called in the police around 5.45am.

Six masked men spent nearly an hour inside the temple before escaping with gold and silver (Sant Arora/HT)

“I was shocked to see the gold and silver ornaments missing from the idols and door latches broken,” Valabh said.

A team of forensic experts collected fingerprints from the temples. “The accused were at least six in number. A case of theft has been registered,” SHO Bhagwan Das said. “We have taken grabs from the CCTV footage. These are being circulated among all police stations in Panchkula and nearby Chandigarh police stations,” he added.

Chinks in temple security exposed

The police and temple authorities suspect the thieves entered the temple campus from one of its unguarded boundaries

Though the seven temples see heavy footfall through the day, the governing body has employed only two security guards, one of them a senior citizen

There were 12 pujaris sleeping on the campus, right opposite the temple’s main precinct where the theft took place. But none of them heard anything

Police said lapses in the security led to the theft. “The security guards did not find anything amiss even as burglars spent nearly an hour in the temples. One of them was sleeping when the burglars broke in,” an investigating officer said.

He said prima facie, the crime appeared to have been carried out by unemployed youth from nearby slums. “But we were not ruling out an insider hand,” he added.

Kasho Das Gupta, president of the temple’s governing body, said, “We are revaluating temple security after the incident. Now, two priests will sleep in the temple’s main precinct. Besides, the security guards at night will be increased from two to three, one of who will constantly patrol the temple premises

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 15:16 IST