Senior HRCE official arrested in connection with misappropriation in making gold idols

A senior official of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department in Chennai, M Kavitha, was arrested by the Idol Wing of the Police in connection with an alleged misappropriation in making gold idols of Lord for the ancient Ekambaranathar temple in Kancheepuram district, on Tuesday. She has reportedly denied any irregularities in making the gold idols.

According to Idol Wing officials, the two idols which were supposed to contain 5.75 kg of gold in total did not contain even a single gram of gold in them. The making of the idols was overseen by the then Deputy Commissioner of HRCE, Kavitha.

HRCE officials, meanwhile, have claimed that they are being unfairly targeted by the Idol Wing of the Police. After a series of meetings, they have decided to go on a mass leave. However, their requests for leave was not granted. “We are being targeted by the idol wing and the court is not supporting us. Not all of us are involved in corruption. If there are proper cases against officials, they must be punished. We are not able to work under threat daily,” said one joint commissioner. The employees will also hold a strike in protest against AG Manickavel who heads the Idol Wing. “His job is to find out the missing idols and draw plans for protecting existing idols. But complaints regarding irregularities need to be investigated by top officials of the HR&CE department and Manickavel has no business in this connection,” said one official.

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The Idol Wing, however, isn’t taking the accusations of harassment hurled at them kindly. “Even before we start interrogating anyone in the case, we are being accused of harassment. In the absence of actual examination of the accused/witnesses, the complaint of harassment by a few is false and malicious. Such an allegation is intentional and is being levelled by some HR&CE officials who could be involved in the wrongdoing,” said a senior officer in the Idol Wing.

The AIADMK government has drawn flak after it transferred all pending idol theft cases to the CBI claiming Manickavel’s work was not satisfactory. Critics of the government claim that Manickavel has successfully resolved over 50 cases and recovered 20 idols. His crowning achievement, however, was the recovery of idols of Raja Raja Chola and his consort Lokamadevi.

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