Border: Ancient idols under attack of intl Gang, Statue of Sita and laxman stolen
Over two dozen statues of Hindu Deity, Buddh and Mahavir smuggled to foreign nation from Indi-Nepal border
MOTIHARI : Two ancient (Astdhatu)- alloy of eight metals idols of goddess Sita and God Laxman is reported to have been stolen in the night of Sunday from Ram-Janki temple at Kheda village under Sugauli police station under Bihar’s east champaran district.
Akhilesh Mishra, SHO of Sugauli police station said that the police has recovered the crown of God Lakshaman idol which was stolen by thieves, and a team of police has been conducting raids to nab the thieves, who are involved in this theft.
Ragho Bhagat, priest of the temple said, that he noticed that two idols were stolen by some unidentified miscreants on the Monday morning when he went inside the temple to clean and wash the sanctum –Santorum. He saw only idol of God Ram was there.
As news speaded like wild fire, and villagers and village head assembled in the temple, they intimated the Sugauli police. Police lodged FIR on the statement of temple priest.
This temple was built in 1958 and presently this temple is being repaired with the support of villagers. A gang of ancient idol thieves is operating on this Indo-Nepal border area.
This is not alone incident of asthdhatu idols being stolen from this localities but
On April 27,2021 Sahodara police in Bihar’s West Champaran district conducted a raid in Devgarh village and arrested four persons, including two citizens of Nepal, for allegedly smuggling a statue of Buddha from the neighboring country. It was to be sold in India.
On May 4, 2021 Bettiah police arrested Md. Ali Jahaan, an accused in the loot at the premises of a finance company, and seized three statues made of ashtadhatu (alloy of eight metals) and recovered 12 idols from the Muzaffarpur district.
Bettiah’s Superintendent of Police, Upendra Nath Verma, had confirmed the arrest of seven smugglers between April and June this year and the recovery of five statues from their possession, including two statues of Buddha. He said that police are investigating the smuggling of statues across the national border.
Rameshwar Ojha, a police officer at Karza police station in Muzaffarpur district, who is investigating the theft of seven antique idols of deities from Shri Ram Janaki Badi Mutt at Nariyar village, said that in last February this year a few idols were also stolen from a temple that came under the jurisdiction of Jaitpur police station.
On June 13, 2021, devotees found that the idols of two deities at the Ram Janaki temple in Basawariya locality of Bettiah were desecrated. This triggered a mass protest and police are investigating the hand of smugglers in this suspected attempt to steal the statues.
In the past, several cases of theft of statues from temples have been reported in this region. Two statues were seized by Sahodra police in West Champaran in 2010 and 2016. A statue of Buddha was seized by personnel attached to the same police station in 2018. These statues reportedly continue to be in the custody of the Sahodra police station.
Jayant Kant, Senior Superintendent of Police of Muzaffarpur, spoke about these thefts, including that of a 2,600-year-old idol of Mahavir stolen from a temple at Dipakarhar village under Khaira police station limits of Jamui district in 2015. He said that incidents of smuggling of narcotics, firearms, cattle, gold and counterfeit currency notes from across the border were also being investigated in his area of jurisdiction.
"The modus operandi of statue smugglers too has striking similarities to these crimes. It has three layers of operators – those who steal them, the transporters and the sellers. The statues of Hindu deities and those of Lord Buddha are priced high in the international market," said Kant.
The 2,600 year-old Mahavir statue is at present in the possession of the Archaeological Survey of India. Kant said that the force was able to recover this statue because those involved in the crime could not find a buyer. "The statue’s spiritual importance to the devotees of that idol is clear from the fact that the temple received in donation about Rs. 70 lakh for its restoration on the very first day," said Kant.
Meanwhile, the demand for sending seized statues to the nearest museum, Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, Bhitiharwa, has gained momentum in West Champaran with the museum authorities writing to the district magistrate and superintendent of police, seeking custody in accordance with Bihar Police Manual Act, 1978.