Statesman News Service
Bhubaneswar, 14 July
Claiming to have achieved a major breakthrough in one of the biggest temple heists in the country, a team of Karnataka police have seized at least three miniature idols made of precious metals which were stolen from a famous Jain shrine at Moodabidri, about 37 km from Mangalore, in Bhubaneswar.
The team also seized about 1.5 kg of gold ingots, precious stones, about Rs 2 lakh in cash and several ATM cards.
Conducting a joint raid, the cops from the southern state along with their Bhubaneswar counterpart seized the items from a house in Sailashree Vihar area yesterday.
“The house belonged to the in-laws of Mr Santosh Das alias Ghanshyam. Mr Das, who is suspected to be the prime accused of the temple loot, is absconding and we have launched a manhunt,” said a senior police officer of twin-city commissionerate.
Though the exact worth of the seized materials has not yet been ascertained, it is said to be in several crores of rupees. Police suspect that the ingots were made after melting some idols.
The idols were stolen from the famous shrine about a week ago. The temple&’s close circuit TV (CCTV) camera had recorded a masked man in a black jacket entering the premises.
A senior Karnataka police officer, who is camping in Bhubaneswar in connection with the probe, informed that the at least 15 of the 52 idols were stolen. While it is suspected that the thieves have melted some idols to get the ingots, many idols have also been damaged.
The accused Mr Das has criminal antecedents and believed to have been involved in similar thefts in the past. He was put behind the bars for his past crimes in Hyderabad.