Clockwise: An image of the stolen iron cannon taken from a Raigad fort. The stolen Nandi idol from Samalkot in East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh and the recovered Nandi idol at Veerabhadra Temple, AP.
Hyderabad: Antiques are being stolen with impunity from centrally-protected monuments maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), across the country. And nine rare antiques, including two in Andhra Pradesh, were stolen in 2016.
History buffs will be relieved to hear that a Nandi idol stolen from Veerabhadraswamy temple in Motupalle village of Chinaganjam mandal of Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, was recovered by police on December 18 last year. But another Nandi idol, stolen from the Kumararama Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Samalkot in East Godavari district, is yet to be traced.
Other antiques stolen last year include a stone Ganesha from the Ramalingeswar temple complex at Avani in Mulbagali Taluk of Kolar district in Karnataka; a stone image from the Bhairavbaba temple, Dantewada and two stone sculptures of Bhairav from the ruined temple at Bastar in Jiyapara, Chhattisgarh. Shockingly, pillagers took away an entire iron cannon from the historic Kasa Fort in Raigad, Maharashtra, on December 5.
"The problem is down to inadequate security. Thefts at museums and other protected places are few. Also, if staff are responsible, they must be punished. Police investigations are on in all cases," an ASI official said. He finds the theft of the iron cannon from Raigad particularly troubling. "How could they have lifted such a heavy metal piece from the fort? It’s a planned operation."
Weak legislation under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972 and punishment of just six months have failed to curb the crimes. There are over 3,650 ancient monuments and historic sites under the ASI’s jurisdiction across the country.