Dilip Kumar

Khordha: Police on Saturday claimed to have cracked the case involving stealing of 22 ancient idols from Dakhyeswar temple at Banpur in Khordha district.

Police have arrested four members of an inter-state racket and recovered nine idols from their possession. Besides, four ingots believed to be made of the stolen idols have also been seized, police said.

Three mobile phones, an air bag and an Aadhaar card have been seized from them, Khordha Superintendent of Police (SP) Ajay Pratap Swain said.

The accused have been identified as Mukesh Chandra Meena (44), Kailash Meena (34), Chutan (32) and Manoj Kumar Meena (30). They all belong to Rajasthan, police said.

Two others involved in the loot are still on the run. Hunt is on to nab them soon, the SP added.

They had reportedly stolen 22 idols, of which some of them are made of Asthadhatu, by breaking open the locks of the temple doors and fled the spot in the intervening night of December 21 and 22 last year.

The stolen idols include Maa Kanaka Durga, Gopinath Dev, Kaliyugeswar Dev and Chandrasekhar Dev.

A police team led by Balugaon SDPO had raided different locations to nab the miscreants. The team first apprehended Kailash Meena from Barunei temple area in Khordha and later nabbed three others. They will be produced before a local court today, police said.

The temple named after Daksha, the father of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Known for its architectural composition, the temple has been under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). There have been two instances of theft from the same temple twice in the past.