This loss was uncovered at about 4 AM on Monday when the priests while coming to the temple for prayers, noticed the doors of six inner temples open. Of these six temples, two were of Lord Shiva and one of Goddess Durga, Lord Ram, Lord Hanuman and Lord Krishna each.
As per a temple priest, he came to the premises at about 4:45 AM and while opening the gates of the Shiv temple, noticed the locks lying on the floor. Subsequently, five other temples were noticed to have been broken into and just one was left untouched by the thieves.
Soon the members of the Shiv Mandir Navdurga Charitable Trust, which runs the temple was called by the priests which assessed the damage. The President of the trust Kesho Ram Gupta, noted that gold and silver ornaments like 16 crowns, armlets, diadems, necklaces, nose rings, two silver kalashas, snakes and 16 silver umbrellas were stolen. Besides this, the thieves also stole a silver flute of Lord Krishna and made away with cash worth Rs 8,000. The total monetary loss, as a result, was pegged at Rs 30 lakh.
It was speculated that such a theft could happen during Shivratri and as a result, guards were deployed at all the gates and 32 CCTV cameras were installed. Surprisingly when the incident happened all the guards were sleeping. The CCTV footage though recorded six thieves breaking into the temple between 2:30 – 3:00 AM on Monday.
As per ACP Anshu Singla, an FIR has been registered in this matter and investigations which includes a collection of fingerprints by a forensic team, are underway. As per the police, the thieves might have entered the temple via a hillock adjoining the temple. They also suspect the involvement of an insider.
This episode has predictably shattered the priests and devotees who have expressed extreme sadness over the news of this theft. The President of the trust has in the light of the matter assured action against the guards and has claimed that they would in the future hire professional security persons.
Such plundering from ancient Hindu temples is unfortunately not new. In December it was reported that priceless Ashtadhatu idols of Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Laxman were stolen from the ancient Ramjanki temple situated in Amkheda village of Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun district.
Even though such a targeting of Hindu temples seems to be becoming a regular affair, it remains to be seen whether a section of the media deems this as a case of rising intolerance in the country. Just like back in 2015, news reports had emerged which quoted Indian Catholics as blaming rising intolerance for alleged cases of “arson, burglary, vandalism and stone-throwing” and were linked by the media to the Modi government’s rise to power.