Mangalore: police solve temple theft cases – Arrest 7, seizure of objects worth Rs 17 lake
Photos: Dayanand Kukkaje
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (NM)
Mangalore, July 19: The defendants arrested in Bantwal recently in connection with the thefts from various temples and basadis in the neighborhood were presented to the media on Friday July 19.
Two other people were also arrested in the case, and they too were brought along with the others.
Police had previously arrested Thimmayya (55) from Chikmagalur, Somanath alias Somesha alias Kulla (45), Jayaraj Swami (45), Ganga alias Gangaraj (48), all from Hassan, and Nethra (38) from Shimoga. Babu (55) from Beltangady who remains in Uppinangady, and Rajendra (65) from Shimoga were later arrested.
Among them, while five were arrested on June 12 and 13, Babu was arrested on July 13 and Rajendra on Thursday July 18. The defendants were brought to court and taken into police custody, while Nethra was taken into custody.
Addressing a press conference here, SP Abhishek Goyal said the accused was arrested at Manihalla in Bantwal. Gold, silver and ancient idols stolen from temples and Basadis in Beltangady, Punjalkatte, Bantwal and Kundapur were recovered from them. However, part of the money had been melted down by the accused.
Items recovered include 1.25 kg of silver from Shree Rama Mandira, Brihmarakutlu, Bantwal, 4.5 kg of (molten) silver from Shree Chandikaparameshwari temple, Bantwal, and stolen items from Shree Anantheshwar temple, Ballamanja, Punjalkatte. Ancient idol Teerthankara Jain stolen from Bangadi Basadi in Beltangady has also been found.
In total, the police seized items worth Rs 17, including 18 grams of gold, 20 kg of silver, two cars (Maruti Omni and Tata Indica) and idols. The idols will be sent to the Archaeological Survey of India to determine their exact value, he said.
The SP said several cases of theft had been reported in and around Bantwal since January this year, and the police formed a team under the leadership of SI Sadananda Varnekar and from May maintained a night watch while the flights took place in the dark. . After a month, on June 12 and 13, police caught five of the accused in a car.
On the night of June 12, a Tata Indica car was spotted in Nekkaladi in Uppinangady, but when police tried to stop it, it sped away. Becoming suspicious, the police pursued him and Bantwal Rural Police Inspector Mahesh Prasad stopped him as he was on his way to Punjalkatte.
Upon inspection, police found an axo blade, iron rods, a screwdriver and sharp wearpons in the car. Chilli powder was found in the car’s dashboard. The thieves planned to attack and kill anyone who tried to get in their way, the SP said.
The SP further claimed that the car had the registration number KA 19 B 9116, which was false. The actual car number is KA 13 B 1691. The thieves had a Maruti Omni but rented the Indica and changed the license plate. The car was still being driven by the accused Jayaraj.
Explaining the thieves’ modus operandi, SP Goyal said Jayaraj used to park the vehicle about 5 to 15 km from the location they planned to loot. Somanath, Thimmayya, and Gangaraj would enter the place and fly, while Babu kept watch. They would have two cell phones to communicate – one with Jayaraj and the other with the trio who are going to loot. When the job was done they would call Jayaraj and he would pick them up and run away with the loot.
During the day, Babu informed the gang of possible temples to loot, and at night, after careful planning, they proceeded to theft. Nethra was sometimes used by thieves to avoid attracting attention or arousing suspicion.
The SP said based on their statements, the police went to Hassan and seized the Omni and two idols. They then went to Shimoga and learned that Jayaraj had given the stolen money to a person and asked them to melt it down for him, stating that it would be used for the renovation of a temple. Jayaraj would take the molten silver and then distribute it to his accomplices. Police seized molten silver from homes in Shimoga, Hassan and Kadoor.
The SP said all except Jayaraj have cases filed against them at various police stations. Rajendra, who led the gang, has about twenty cases against him alone. Jayaraj is a marriage broker by profession.
The SP further informed that the wife of the accused Thimmayya was a former president of the Kadoor gram panchayat, and that Thimmayya himself was politically active and used his connections to avoid being arrested on previous occasions.
Babu had previously been convicted of stealing an offering box from Uppinangady St Thomas Catholic Church.
The SP, through the media, called on temple authorities to install CCTV, burglar alarms, and deploy security guards at temple premises, not only to prevent thefts, but also to assist the investigation by evidence whether a theft had occurred.