Theft of ancient antique murtis late at night on Monday from a 13th Century mandir dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva located in Odisha’s Khurda district has come to light. Reports indicate that some of the 22 murtis that have been stolen were made of the precious Ashtadhatu alloy.
The murtis were stolen by unidentified miscreants who are said to have forced their way into Banpur town’s 800-year-old Daksh Prajapati Mandir. Odisha police stated that the thieves broke open three doors and stole murtis worth crores of rupees. Some of these murtis were made of the Ashtadhatu alloy which is a combination of the eight precious metals gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, tin, iron, and mercury.
Police Inspector Sanjay Patnaik of the Banpur Police Station issued a statement in this regard stating that 22 of the 31 rare antique murtis of the mandir have been stolen which includes the murtis of Maa Kanaka Durga, Gopinath Dev, Kaliyugeswar Dev, and Chandrasekhar Dev among others.
Bhagwan Shiva is the main deity of this mandir which has been named after His wife Mata Sati’s father Daksha Prajapati who was the manasputra of Bhagwan Brahma. The mandir, currently under the management of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), has already seen two incidents of robbery in the past.
Historian Anil Dhir, State Project Coordinator at INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) said that precious murtis numbering more than 300 have gone missing from various parts of Odisha. He opined that the state has become a hub for exporting stolen murtis while adding that only one murti was recovered of the 48 murtis reported as missing from the Prachi Valley in the last decade despite the fact that cases have been registered at various police stations in the valley in this regard. Not even one of the 20 murtis stolen from Bhadrak in the last decade has been retrieved.
Amiya Tripathi, state convenor of INTACH, was of the opinion that the existing laws are insufficient to deal with the menace of robbery of antique murtis. He opined that there should be a holistic National Heritage Protection Policy and added that despite the fact that there are 22000 ancient mandirs in Odisha, the authorities do not have any database of the numerous rare antique stone and metal murtis housed in these temples.
He added that the present laws including the antiquities and Art Treasures Act, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, and the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 are not effective in curbing this burglary menace.
(Featured Image Source: Hindustan Times)
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