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Tamil Nadu: Stolen idol returned after 100 years by grandson of former priest who had stolen it

The idol was stolen by a priest in 1915 and hidden in a wall

In 1915, a 700 hundred-year-old idol of Dhroupathi Amman was stolen from a temple in Madurai’s Melur by a temple priest. 100 years later, his grandson Murugesan returned the idol to the Idol Wing police on Sunday.

The temple priest, Karuppasamy, had stolen the idol following an argument he had with the other priests. He had dug out a wall of his house, placed the idol in there and plastered the surface. A case was filed with the British police force but they couldn’t find the idol.

Murugesan has said that ever since the idol was stolen his family had been suffering for generations. According to him, the death of his relatives and his own ill health is due to  “wrath of the goddess”. Six months ago, Murugesan finally revealed the secret that the idol was hidden in a wall of his ancestral house.

An officer from the Idol Wing said that Murugesan had told his temple priest that as a young boy he had seen his grandfather and father worship a wall in their house. Deputy superintendent of police, idol wing, V Malaisamy had said that ever since Murugesan made this revelation, the villagers were trying their best to retrieve their idol.

There was an initial hesitation to break the wall but the owner of the wall didn’t object as he himself had been planning to demolish the building. The police proceeded to break the wall after receiving a written complaint.

Records have shown that the idol had a specific third eye which upon inspection was found to match with the recovered idol. The 1.5 feet idol would be returned to the temple during its annual festival in the next month. The temple is located in Nagaikadai Street and is said to be over 800 years old.

Pon Manickavel, a special officer of the idol wing said that he would be visiting the location to conduct an enquiry.

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