Law enforcement in Chennai, India, has seized 55 Hindu idols from an art collector that are suspected to have been looted from temples across the country.
According the New Indian Express, the collector, Shobha Durairajan, told the Tamil Nadu Police department’s Idol Wing unit, which is tasked with tracking down looted relics, that she had purchased the idols from a deceased art dealer and accused smuggler named Deenadayalan, of the Aparna Art Gallery. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is currently assessing the lot, which likely date back to the 9th or 10th century CE.
“Since the inception of the idol wing, as many as 1,541 stolen antique idols of bronze and stone have been recovered and kept safely at 19 icon centers,” the director-general of Chennai police, Sylendra Babu, of the Idol Unit, said in a statement. “Armed police personnel are guarding them and CCTV surveillance has been also provided. We will investigate who was involved in the theft and nab them. We have seized over 300 idols in the last two years.”
Durairajan has previously been the subject of scrutiny by the Idol Wing. Last December, police recovered seven missing Hindu relics, including three stolen from the Adhi Kesava Perumal Temple in Ulundurpet, Kallakurichi, from her collection after she registered several with the ASI. A subsequent search of Durairajan’s Chennai estate uncovered relics of the Hindu figures Adhi Kesava Perumal, Veera Bhadra, Bhoodevi, Sree Devi, Asthira Devar, Amman, and Mahadevi.
The group had been purchased from Aparna Art Gallery between in 2008 and 2015. Durairajan reportedly only provided receipts for four of the idols, and two others were inscribed on their undersides with “Adhi Kesava Temple.”