Probe into missing antique peacock idol from TN temple intensified

The investigation into the missing Punnai Mara Nathar (holy peacock) idol from Kapaleeswar Temple, Chennai have been intensified with the Tamil Nadu police, including the idol theft squad and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) department also launching a probe into it.

On Monday, the Madras High Court ordered the state police and the HR&CE department to conduct a detailed probe and submit a statement on the same within six weeks.

The order was passed by the First bench of the Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Muniswar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Adikesavalu on a Public Interest Litigation filed in 2018. Rangarajan Narasimham of Srirangam in the PIL has petitioned the court that the more than two centuries-old peacock idol was stolen from the Kapaleeswar temple since 2004 and was replaced with a fake idol which is being worshipped now.

Following the court order, the Tamil Nadu idol theft squad has constituted a special team and commenced the investigation on the missing idol. The HR&CE fact-finding team is also conducting a simultaneous probe on the same.

The Idol Wing of the CB-CID will be submitting the report in the court within six weeks. There were reports that the idol would have been stolen before 2004 and the former HR&CE commissioner, Phaneendra K. Reddy has said that the change of idol must have occurred during March 2003.

With several idols stolen from major temples of temples being traced to the United States and in some cases to certain European countries, the order of the Madras High Court is significant.

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