Chennai: The ninth century idols of the god Nataraja and his goddess Uma Parmeshwari of Sripuranthan Prahatheswarar temple, Ariyalur were separated after notorious international idol smuggler Subash Kapoor stole them in 2008 and sold them to different art museums.
They were united again under one roof on Tuesday thanks to the efforts of the idol wing of the Tamil Nadu police, which relentlessly followed the case through all available channels and brought the highly valued idols back to TN.
The Idols were smuggled out of India and taken to Kapoor’s New York shop from where they were sold to an Australian museum and the Singapore museum respectively. Uma Parmeshwari’s idol was brought back from Singapore and produced before the additional chief magistrate’s court in Kumbakonam on Tuesday.
The Natarajar idol was returned by Australia in August 2014. The idols are to be kept in the icon centre in Kumbakonam till the case gets over. The idols had been worshipped together in the same sanctum sanctorum of the Sripuranthan temple.
“The Natarjar idol came back from Australia in September 2014. Now the idol of Uma Parmeshwari too is back,” said Prateep V Philip, ADGP, economic offences wing. After protracted negotiations, the Singapore Civilisation Museum last week returned the idol it had purchased for US $ 650,000.00 (Rs.3.9 crore) from Kapoor.
A police team from the Idol wing went to Delhi and brought the idol to Chennai and later produced it before the court in Kumbakonam on Tuesday. The Singapore museum has around 30 Indian artifacts purchased from Kapoor and a majority of them are from south India.
Kapoor is now languishing in Puzhal jail. He was extradited to India in July 2012 after being nabbed in Germany the previous year.
After his arrest, several museums across the world began disclosing that they had purchased Indian artifacts from his antique shop ‘Art of the Past’ in Manhattan, New York.
Some museums in the US have begun depositing such idols with the Homeland Security whose officials are saying they were not aware the items had been smuggled into the country....