Crime Investigation Department (CID) recovered 74 antique idols from the house of a French national in Puducherry. The raid was carried out by 20 member team led by Superintendent of Police R Sakthivel on Wednesday (September 23). The seized idols included the deities of Ardhanarishara, Shiva-Parvathi and Alingana Pradosa Murthy.
The CID team searched the ancestral house in the presence of the owner Jean Paul Rajarathinam after they got credible information from their source. In the raid, the search team recovered the 74 idols.
While talking to media, SP Sakthivel said, "Among 74 idols, 14 were sculpted in stone and the remaining in metal worth several crores. Some of them would be panchaloha idols."
"These idols dating back to the Chola period are likely to have been stolen from temples across Tamil Nadu," SP Sakthivel added.
According to the police, house owner Rajarathinam is the brother of Marie Therese Anandi Vanina, 37, a French woman of Indian origin whose house in Puducherry was raided in 2016 by the idol wing CID and 11 antique bronze idols worth several crores of rupees were seized.
She was subsequently arrested by the idol wing CID in August 2019 in Chennai on charges of illegally exporting stolen antique idols and artifacts for several years from Puducherry to France.
According to a report, Marie and her husband Prabakaran, residents of France, allegedly used to stock the illegally procured artefacts and idols in their Puducherry house before shipping them to France via Colombo.