Bhubaneswar, Feb (LocalWire):The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) organised it’s annual state conveners conference here on Friday in which the conveners from different chapters expressed their concerns on the increasing cases of temple thefts all over the state.
Digamber Mohanty of the Bhadrak Chapter said, “The INTACH has brought to light many instances of idol thefts and even registered FIRs in the respective police stations, but to no avail.
There have been as many as 20 cases of idol thefts in the last decade in the Bhadrak district, but not a single recovery has been made yet.”
The State Convener, Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, also the former DGP of Odisha, lamented that there is an absolute lack of awareness and apathy regarding the intrinsic value of these idols which represent the rich cultural heritage of Odisha.
“The prevailing laws intended to prevent idol thefts and burglary are inherently ineffective. A holistic National Heritage Protection Policy and System should be put in place.
There is no true objective database for all the antiques in approximately 22,000 ancient temples in Odisha. More than 95% of the idols in these temples remain legally unregistered as the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities remains incomplete,” he added.
Tripathy blamed the inconsequential and weak legislation like the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, etc for being ineffective in curbing these crimes.
He further said that new amendments are the pressing need of the hour. The State Police should have a separate wing for dealing with such crimes.
According to Anil Dhir, who recently made the report on the Antiquities of the Prachi Valley, more than 300 valuable idols have gone missing. The idols which had been photographed and documented by scholars in the last three decades have now vanished.
Dhir reported that nearly 48 FIRs have been filed in different Police Stations of the Prachi valley in the last decade with only one successful recovery so far.
He suggested that the State Archaeology Department should develop a proper database by photographing and documenting the physical dimensions of the antique idols including their specific identifying features.
Odisha has become a major hub for illegal idol exports as a container shipment is facilitating their exit. The authorities should ensure that a Clearance Certificate is obtained for all idol exports from a competent agency.
Baikuntha Panigrahi, Bhubaneswar Convener, said that the INTACH has undertaken the listing and documentation of monuments in all its chapters and published nearly two dozen reports.
Edited by Meenal Singh