Vikash Sharma

Are temples in Odisha becoming easy targets for the miscreants? Such questions are now being raised after several incidents of alleged thefts from religious institutions in different parts of the state came to fore in the last few months.

From stealing gold and silver ornaments of deities to other valuables including donation boxes, brass and other utensils, the miscreants are reportedly targeting everything that is available at temples.

A Look At Some Recent Loot Incidents

On Tuesday night (March 19), miscreants allegedly targetted two temples and looted over Rs 27 lakh cash from their hundis (donation boxes).

Ram Mandir, Nayagarh

The first one was the newly-built Ram Mandir on the Girigobardhan hill at Fatehgarh of Nayagarh district. The thieves allegedly decamped with over Rs 20 lakh cash and valuable old and silver ornaments of the deities. The Ram temple committee filed a police complaint in this regard and claimed that cash and ornaments over Rs 25 lakh were stolen from the temple.

Panchalingeswar Temple, Balasore

Same night, burglars allegedly broke open the donation box by using gas cutters and decamped with cash worth lakhs of rupees from the famous Shaivite shrine Panchalingeswar in Balasore. Police started an investigation after a member of the Panchalingeswar Temple Trust Board filed a complaint in this regard the next morning.

Mukteswar Temple (Sarbodayanagar), Puri

Miscreants had decamped with two idols from Mukteswar temple in Sarbodayanagar of Puri in the month of February. On February 19, Police arrested three persons in connection with the theft of idols. The accused were identified as Gunamani Pradhan of Baliput and Jitendra Kahal and Ranjan Pradhan of Chhaitana.

Shiva Temple, Bhadrak

Unidentified miscreants allegedly looted valuables worth Rs 4 lakh from a Shiva temple at Bagpunji village under Jaleswar Police limits in Balasore district on February 13, 2024.

Also Read: Concerns Raised Over Rising Cases Of Temple Thefts In Odisha

Durga Temple, 2 Other Temples Targetted In Cuttack

The Durga temple at Darakhapatna was burgled on January 28. Apart from this, miscreants had also targetted two other temples located at different locations in Cuttack. Later, the Commissionerate arrested three dacoits for their alleged involvement in the loot cases.

Ram and Hanuman temple, Bhadrak

In November 2023, miscreants allegedly looted silver ornaments from Ram and Hanuman temple at Baral Sahi under ward no.1 in Bhadrak district.

3 Temples Targeted In Balasore

In October last year, unidentified miscreants had looted gold ornaments and other valuables from three temples located in Mahagaba Panchayat under Kamardda police limits in Balasore district.

Sources said the miscreants usually target small temples or the ones which are located at a distance from localities. Major temples have their own security measures including CCTV cameras at prominent places at the shrines. This perhaps acts as deterrent for the criminals. However, small temples where no proper security is available are becoming easy targets for the thieves.