17th century idols stolen from Kullu’s Raghunath Temple

North Gazette News/Shimla
17th century idols of Lord Raghunath and Lord Hanuman that were made of ashtdhatu were stolen on Tuesday from Raghunath temple in Himachal’s Kullu district.

As per reports, it i’s one of the biggest heists in a religious place in the recent past and police have registered case under section 457 and 380 of IPC.

HP Director General of Police Sanjay Kumar said that thieves entered the temple from its roof and took away idols of Lord Raghunath and Hanuman, both made of ‘ashtadhatu’ (a composite of eight metals), one stone Narsingh Shila (covered with gold), one silver Ganesh idol and one pair of ‘Charan Paduka’ besides ornaments.

Kullu MLA and chief representative of Lord Raghunath Temple Maheshwar Singh said that the idol of Lord Raghunath (the main deity of Kullu) was antique. The famous Kullu Dussehra, a centuries-old festival, is also associated with Lord Raghunath.

As soon as the house assembled in the morning, Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh gave a suo motu statement in the assembly on the issue.

“An alert had been sounded and a team of forensic experts had been deputed at the crime spot. Further, police vigil had been stepped up at all exit points from Kullu,” Singh said, adding that since the temple was a privately managed property no police or home guard personnel was deployed there for its security.

Intervening in the matter, former chief minister and opposition leader Prem Kumar Dhumal said that the issue of theft was serious incident and it showed deteriorating law and order in the state.

“Just few months back some silver ornaments were stolen from the same temple, which have still not been traced. Had the government taken cognizance of the matter in this regard, the theft could have been avoided,” Dhumal said.

The Chief Minister clarified that the government had no control over the management of the temple. “The temple authorities have not demanded any security from the government. CCTV cameras have been installed in the temple. We will put in all the efforts to get the idol back,” he said.

As per records, over 200 idols have been stolen from the temples and monasteries since 1990. In most cases, the culprits have not been caught and the idols not recovered.

The hill state has over 2,000 temples and monasteries that are centuries old. Of these, 60 are under the control of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) while 31 are under the state language, art and culture department.