Investigation

The great Indian idol robbery

Print edition : January 24, 2014

A Somaskanda bronze--Siva with his consort Uma and Skanda as a child. This is among the many idols that have been stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu. The theft of this bronze was recorded in the Udayarpalayam police station in 2008. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

Subash Chandra Kapoor (in blue shirt) at the Jayamkondam Sessions Court on December 6 to face trial in a case of idol theft and smuggling. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The missing idol of Deepalakshmi. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

Missing idol of Sivagami Amman. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

Missing idol of Subramaniyar. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

Missing idol of Valli. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

Missing idol of Deivanai. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

Missing idol of Nataraja. Photo: COURTESY: IDOL WING, TAMIL NADU POLICE

The arrest of the Indian American art dealer Subash Chandra Kapoor in Tamil Nadu in 2012 and the subsequent investigations by the Idol Wing of the State police unravel a global network of “agents, thieves and smugglers” that targets ageless artefacts in disused and dilapidated temples.

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