Tamil Nadu state officers have compromised their lives in retrieving the stolen idols. These 130 officers are on the hunt for idols all over the world.Sammanathan, a trustee of the 2000-year old Vedapureeswarar temple, passed away in 1987. This heartbroken man had promised to return the Natarajar idol, which was stolen during his lifetime. During his service, he believed that evil would befall the village. If the idol was not found and kept back in the temple, However, he died even before he binged the idol back.
The DGP of Tamil Nadu state, Jayanth Murali, said smugglers have adapted various ways of staling the temple idols. Some smugglers, like Subhas Kapoor, would just contact local theives and steal the idols. In this case, the thieves would eventually marry the villages and residents to steal the idol. They would remove the original and replace the idol with its duplicate, and send the original one abroad.
The Tamil Nadu Idol wing comprises of 130 officers working across various parts of the state. The team has successfully recovered over 1500 idols across the state and the country. As per the investigation, the Natarajar idol was smuggled and sent abroad. Typically, smuggled idols are sent through the Nepal border because avoiding customs is a piece of cake there.From Nepal, the stollen idols would then be transported to countries like London, the United States, or Singapore and sold to art dealers and private buyers.
After the FIR was filed, the investigation officer asked for a visual picture of the Natarajar. This is just to search for where the idol was. just in case they could match the idol from a museum or an auction house. It is important for the picture to be present just to ensure the visual reference. As per the French institution of Pondicherry, students research their culture and history. due to which the repository has a 40–50% percentage of images in their repository. These pictures are from 1951 onwards, which are all black and white.
While it is now possible to trace through brochures and catalogues from various museums around the world.This was not the case earlier. A Goddess Sridevi Idol was discovered in the Hill Auction Gallery in Florida.While the idol was traced, the Indians claimed ownership. The museum removed all the images from the website. so that no trace of the image is left online.
The idol cannot be pointed out at random.once the idol wing traces and finds the visual inputs. A forensic team scientifically analyzed the image and the idol from the museum brochure to be precise on the right stolen idol. The archelogist is called in to confirm if the idols match. Once this process is done, the Idol wing officer claims the ownership and starts their ground work. And late on, paperwork along with other tests needs to be sent to the bureacratic office across the country.
Although the process of bringing an idol back to its region is difficult and lengthy, It became a huge success when it came back. The Vedapureeswar temple’s Natarajar idol was bought back after the New York museum confirmed it. It was found in the Asia Society museum in New York after lots of huddles. The DGP said after a lot of paperwork they could fulfill the wish of Sammantham. He said he has raised this issue in various forums and seminars.