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Dilip Kumar

Khordha: As many as 22 antique idols, some of them are made up of ‘Astadhatu’, have allegedly been stolen from an ancient temple at Banpur near Balugaan in Khurdha district late on Monday night.

Police sources said, unidentified miscreants barged into the sanctum sanctorum of the 300-old Dakheswar temple by breaking open the locks of three doors last night and fled away with the precious idols worth crores of rupees.

The stolen idols include Kanakdurga, Kaliyugeswar, Chandrasekhardev and Gopinathdev.

Sources said, the ancient shrine has been under the supervision of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Tarinisen Pradhan, an ASI official said "I was on duty on Monday. I locked the temple doors and main gate at around 8 pm last night before leaving for home. When I came to the temple this morning, I found the doors of the temple opened. I immediately passed on the message to our higher ups."

As many as 31 ancient idols were there in the temple. Of them, 22 have been stolen, he added.

"We have registered a complaint with police in this regard. Police have reached the spot and launched an investigation", pradhan said.

A servitor of the temple said "When I entered the temple premises in the morning for daily rituals, I found the locks of all the doors were broken. Later, I was shocked to know that 22 idols, many of them were made up of ‘astadhatu’, have been stolen. I put the rituals on hold and ran to the temple managing committee to inform the officials about the theft. I also appraised the matter to our priests' association."

It is suspected that thieves could make an attempt to sell the idols in the international market at high prices.

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