The Idol Wing of Tamil Nadu CID police has seized antiques worth over Rs 50 crore from the house of an absconding art dealer in Chennai. The seized items include dozens of Panchaloha and stone idols and paintings belonging to the Chola and Hoysala period.
The Idol Wing had busted the racket on May 31, arresting three persons — alleged agents who sold stolen items in Mumbai. The arrests followed a raid at the home of an art dealer in Alwarpet, leading to the seizure. Kingpin Deenadayalan (85), whose house on Chennai’s Murray’s Gate Road was raided over three days, may be arrested soon. His passport has been impounded, an officer said.
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Officers said some 38 Panchaloha idols, 50 stone idols and 50 Tanjore paintings and wooden artefacts were recovered in the raids. Police has issued a lookout notice against Deenadayalan.
IGP (Idol Wing) A G Pon Manickavel said several metal idols and antique paintings were seized. R Nagaswamy, former Director of Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department confirmed that most of the seized items belong to the Chola period, as old as 1,600 years.
Among the seized items are statues of Shiva in the form of Tripurantaka Murthy, Nardhana Ganapathi and Devi. Deenadayalan’s alleged role in smuggling an idol of Ardhanarishwarar from Virudhagereeswarar temple is also being probed.
The idol was sold for $3 million to Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia in 2004 by Subash Kapoor, an idol smuggler who is behind bars now. Police is probing possible links between Deenadayalan and Kapoor, said an officer.