Uttar Pradesh: Police arrested man for stealing idols and valuables from Shanidev temple

Yet another case of antique theft was reported in Sultanpur district Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. A man named Salim called the police and informed that a local thief, of Muslim origin, was seen running away with three silver mukuts (crowns), one idol made of Astha-Dhatu (a combination of eight metals including gold and silver), two copper idols, the donation box and the temple bell from the Shanidev temple in Sultanpur- Sabzi Mandi district, Uttar Pradesh.

Soon after a 200-meter chase, PVR 2820, caught the miscreant and handed over the valuables to the police.

India’s rich cultural heritage is at a constant threat as cases of illegal antique trafficking is gaining strength. This exploitation continues unabated despite the existence of The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 whose aim is to protect “antiquities,” an omnibus term that includes, among other items, sculptures in stone, shrines, terracotta, metals, jewelry, ivory, paintings in paper, wood, cloth, skin, and manuscripts over a hundred years old.

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In one such incident reported in 2016, a big episode of theft occurred in ‘Dev Bhumi’ Kullu in Himachal Pradesh from where one of the priceless idols of Lord Raghunath along with the idol of Lord Hanuman, 10 kg of silver ornaments and 1 kg of gold ornaments were stolen from a famous temple Raghunathpura, Kullu.

Earlier this year Opindia had reported how, Ashton Sequeira, an NSUI leader (District Secretary) was arrested along 5 others for stealing and attempting to sell antiquated idols of Jain Tirthankaras worth crores of rupees.

History is witness to the fact that from time to time most of our antiquities and important documents were taken away by the foreign rulers and invaders from our temples, monuments etc. Many of them are still lying in various museums in many countries. A few months back, the British Museum on Twitter had uploaded an image of an Indian sandstone sculpture displayed in their Museum which attracted a lot of resentment from Indians demanding it to be returned back as it is part of Indian heritage.

It’s time that we regard theft of Antiquities not merely as a cultural theft, which is a huge issue in itself, but also a civilizational threat and a threat to the very existence of our nation.

Earlier in 2016, as a part of ‘Operation Hidden Idol,’ raids and seizures were made at the Asia Art Week in New York which sought to curb the flow of smuggled cultural products into New York.

Prime Minister of Modi is the first Indian head of government to demand stolen Indian heritage from the U.S, Canada, Germany, and other countries.

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