Idol-lifters held in Kavali
source: Deccan Chronicle, May 14, 2007
Nellore, May 14: Criminal gangs of Kavali in Nellore district are unlikely to go anywhere near temples to steal idols in the future. The ordeals they faced till Kavali police apprehended them on Monday were such that the criminals have almost become God-fearing and have developed a phobia towards idols.
The eight-member gang had stolen two idols from Sri Venugopalaswamy temple at Chenchuganipalem in Kavali mandal and two more idols from the Siva temple at Jaladanki near Kavali a few months ago. A retired RTC driver, Venkata Narasimha Chari, 60, of Kavali, lured the gang members, who were invo-lved in petty crimes, to steal idols from ancient temples.
In their first attempt, they set their eyes on Venugopalaswamy in Jaladanki and successfully completed the mission in February. Though they are skilful in their craft they had no idea how to sell the invaluable panchaloha idols in the market. They decided to melt the idols to collect gold after they drew a blank in their attempts to dispose of them after a few attempts.
The idols were reduced to ashes when the over enthusiastic group poured 30 litres of acid after taking them to the nearby forest. The kingpin of the group, Narasimha Chari died a week after the incident while sleeping at his home. Family members assumed it to be a heart attack but the incident created doubts am-ong gang members. But the desire to make quick money led them to steal idols from another ancient Siva temple at Jaladanki in March.
They cut the two hands of Goddess Parvathi to sell them in the local market in vain. Weird incidents started happening. One gang member Kiran sustained a leg fracture in a road accident when he was on his way to negotiate the issue on a motorcycle to Chennai. Hari of the gang became bedridden after a similar accident. Kondal Rao, Nayab Rasool, Sivakumar and Mastan Rao, became sick, all of the sudden. At least eight of them had nightmares of idols staring at them in different shapes.
Presuming that all their problems were linked to the idols they dug a pit and placed them under the earth. Police caught one of the gang members following a nuisance complaint lodged by locals and on interrogation he revealed their involvement in idol theft. Though the value of the two recovered idols was estimated at Rs 40,000, their antique value runs to several lakhs, according to police.