Odisha now a major hub of stolen Idols : INTACH

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) – The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) held its annual State Conveners Conference on 14th February. Speaking on the occasion, the Conveners from different chapters expressed grave concerns on the rising cases of temple thefts all over Odisha.

According to Mr. Anil Dhir, who had recently made the report on the antiquities of the Prachi Valley, over 300 valuable idols were found missing in different places during his survey. Mr. Dhir reported that nearly 48 FIR’s had been filed in different Police stations of the Prachi Valley in the last decade, and only one recovery has been made. Precious Jain and Buddhist Idols have vanished in the last decade.

Mr. Dhir said that proper methods should be adopted as per international norms to discourage this rampant illegal trade. The metal Idols should have laser markings at the base as evidence of ownership. In the event of theft, this will be evidence. The stone Idols should have metallic engraving at the base with the name of the temple and place. There have been many instances where recovered stolen Idols could not be traced back to their original places, and are lying in different Police malkhanas and the ASI godowns.

Mr. Dhir said that Odisha has become a major hub for illegal Idol exports as container shipment is facilitating their exit by sending the stolen items along with the recently made statues and Idols. The authorities should ensure that a ‘Clearance Certificate’ is obtained for all Idol exports from a competent agency.

State Convener, Mr. Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, who is also the former DGP of Odisha, lamented there is no true objective database for all the antiques, both stone and metallic Idols, in the approximately 22,000 ancient places of worship in Odisha. Indeed, more than 95% of the antique Idols in these temples remain legally unregistered as the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities remains incomplete.