The Narmada police has started investigation into an alleged theft of articles worth Rs 6.98 lakh from the Shoolpaneshwar temple located along the Narmada river near Gora village in Nandod taluka of the district, about 15 kilometres from the Sardar Sarovar dam.
The theft, which is said to have occurred late night on Monday, saw ancient silver articles, including the crown of an idol, the Shesh Nag (snake) customarily placed around the Shivaling as well as a silver pot that hangs above the Shivaling.
Police said that that the thieves broke into the temple early on Tuesday and decamped with the silver articles. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kevadia, Vina Dudhat said, “We had police deployed at the temple… the priest and his family live just across the temple… so it is concerning that the theft took place. We have registered an FIR and launched a probe. We are examining all available CCTV footage from the area.” Dudhat said that there was a minor theft in the temple two decades ago.
The temple is popular among those undertaking the Narmada Yatra as well as with the local residents. It was reconstructed at its present site in 1993 after the original temple near Manibeli village submerged in the Sardar basin during the construction of the Narmada dam. The present Shivaling is a reconstruction of the original Swayambhu Shivalinga, which has a mention in Hindu scriptures and is said to be 5,000 years old. The silver Shesh Nag was the original figurine of the serpent that was moved to the new temple.
Police said they were gathering information on anyone trying to sell silver articles at jewellery shops. The temple that was shut during the nation wide lockdown reopened on June 8.