Five months after the Tamil Nadu Idol Wing found allegedly unregistered antiques in the residences of industrialist Ranvir Shah and businesswoman Kiran Rao in Chennai, they are yet to make any breakthroughs in the case. Investigations have been underway from October 2018, when the two idol theft suspects got anticipatory bail. But the Idol Wing has now demanded that the Madras High Court cancel Kiran Rao's bail over her 'non-cooperation' in the case.
According to reports, special officer appointed to the idol wing, Pon Manickavel, has alleged that Rao is 'totally uncooperative' and that the court must cancel her bail. He has informed the court that she has flouted the undertaking made to the court as a condition for the anticipatory bail. Manickavel alleged that Rao threatened one of the Idol Wing officials and refused to answer any questions.
But Idol Wing officials who spoke to TNM under the condition of anonymity said that there were no threats issued to any officers.
"But she is not cooperating with our probe at all. We have removed over 20 stone idols and pillars which were buried in her backyard but so far she has not produced any documents for these antiques. Neither has she revealed the source. We have a dealer, Deendayal, already on our radar. But if it is not him, she has to name the dealer," he says. "Ranvir Shah meanwhile has produced documents for close to 100 antiques. 35 requests are pending with Archaeological Association of India. He doesn't have documentation for close to 70," he adds.
But senior counsel Shanmugasundaram who is appearing for Rao says that the Idol Wing has not told them in court what exactly the non-cooperation on his client's part was.
"They need to give a petition in court for us to answer," he tells TNM. He has further asked the court to relax her bail conditions. She is currently required to appear at the Trichy Idol Wing office every day. Her counsel has argued that she needs to run her business in Chennai and has to therefore be in the city.
A special bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice P D Audikesavalu however refused to relax conditions and directed Manickavel to file a bail cancellation application. Earlier, the bench relaxed the bail condition for Ranvir Shah and permitted him to visit Chennai since the Idol Wing did not oppose it.