BISHNUPUR: The police suspect that a gang, running an antiques theft racket, is behind the recent vandalism at a 17th century temple in Bishnupur.Investigators had earlier suggested that treasure-hunters had damaged the nationally protected structure, in the temple complex. On Monday , intruders dug up the sanctum sanctorum and damaged parts of the wall inside the Kalachand temple, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India had said. Both ASI and the police suspect the accused left midway , without completing the entire digging.
According to the police, one of the gangs dealing in antiques in the eastern part of India, particularly in Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, could have launched the “operation” after conducting a recce of the spot over several nights.
Their suspicion is reportedly not completely unfounded. Six antique statues were stolen from Varahanath temple complex in Jajpur in Orissa only a few months ago.
The police have now tightened the security around the temple complex though residents said no guard could usually be found at the temple.”Though two guards are allotted to each temple, no one is there to oversee their job,” an official said. Bankura DM Mo umita Basu said, “We will work closely with ASI to ensure betterment of the complex.” ASI regional director Dr P K Mishra said, “We want to free the site from encroachers and build apath way connecting all the 20 temples in the complex.”
A team, comprising ASI deputy superintendent Mihir Kumar Sarkar, ASI deputy superintendent P K Nayek, ASI assistant conservation and conservation assistant Arnab Roy , visited the temple. Bishnupur SDO Parha Acharya said, ” After the vandalism, ASI officials were upset with the security .We assured them there would not be any issue with it.”