In what is considered to be one of the major busts by the Idol Wing, the residence of businessman Ranvir Shah, founder of Prakriti Foundation, was raided, in Saidapet, where 89 statues worth over Rs 100 crore were seized. The Idol Wing is part of the Economic Offences Wing of the Tamil Nadu police.
The Idol Wing had earlier raided Ranvir’s house and found idols in his possession. However, at the time, the philanthropist said that he had the requisite permission to keep them. It has now been discovered that they were illegal and that he doesn’t have any permission.
The idols will now be moved to the Idol Wing office in Guindy.
Speaking to TNM, Additional SP Ashok Natarajan said, “As per Kumbakonam ACJM judge’s order, we inspected Ranvir Shah’s house and raided it. Eighty-nine items, including 22 pillars, 12 metal idols and artefacts and 56 stone sculptures, have been confiscated. We have seized them and will submit it in ACJM court. Further actions will be taken based on the court’s orders.”
According to the SP, the sculptures are huge, over 100 years old and mostly from the temples in Tamil Nadu.
“Although we were shown registration certificates, there is no proof as to where these idols came from. It must have been stolen from some temple. We will find the temples from where they were stolen,” he said.
The Idol Wing received a tip-off from Deenadayalan. Following Deenadayalan’s arrest in the idol smuggling case in 2016, the Idol Wing had conducted an enquiry on Ranvir’s involvement in the case and about the possession of idols at his house. However, at the time, the philanthropist said that he had the requisite permission to keep them. Now, it has been discovered that they were illegal and that he doesn’t have any permission.
The police official said that some of the statues are also from an antique dealer in Mattancherry and another in Puducherry.
So far, no arrests have been made in the case. When asked where the seized items would be kept, the SP said, “There is no place to keep it in a museum. So we don’t know where to keep it.”
Speaking to media persons, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Idol Wing CID, AG Pon Manickavel said, “Nobody in Tamil Nadu has been given licence to sell antique idols dating over 100 years. But this is happening and we are taking action. Even pillars have been stolen.”