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75-yr-old temple priest arrested in TN for stealing idols

Police said that the suspect, N. Satiyamoorthy hid the idols at the Sri Visalakshi Viswanathar temple at Nenmeni, where he was working as a priest.

IANS | Chennai |

The idol wing of the Tamil Nadu police department has arrested a 75-year-old temple priest for stealing two metal idols at Nenmeni village near Sirkazhi.

The idols are of Shri Pradoshanayagar and of Shri Pradoshanayagi.

Police said that the suspect, N. Satiyamoorthy hid the idols at the Sri Visalakshi Viswanathar temple at Nenmeni, where he was working as a priest. The sleuths said that he was planning to sell these idols for crores of rupees and was engaged in discussions with potential buyers.

The police team led by ADSP, P. Rajaram, and his team chanced upon the priest during an investigation into the missing of four idols from Shri Nallakathayi Temple in Mannankoil four decades ago and arrested him on Wednesday. The idols were of Shri Nallakathayi, Shri Kanjamaleeswarar, Shri Vinayaka, and Shri Anjaneyar.

ADSP R. Rajaram told media that Suryamoorthy and his father Natesan had been working with a few temples in Sirkazhi and had taken several idols home under the pretext of keeping them safe. Natesan passed away in 2003 and Suryamoorthy had brought some of the idols back to the temple.

Police said that only a detailed interrogation would reveal whether he was involved in other temple thefts that had taken place in Tamil Nadu in the past four decades.

It is to be noted that after the Tamil Nadu police constituted the idol wing, idols worth crores of rupees were brought back from several international destinations.