Another arrest, this time of two men from Harihar, Karnataka (names given as Parashuram and Vijayanand) was made this past Monday in the ongoing case of the smuggling of idols and statuary out of southern Indian temples. Specifically, these two individuals "used to steal ancient Panchaloha (alloy of five metals) idols as well as gold and silver ornaments from temples, Bhootasthanes, Jain Basadis etc., located in Udupi and Uttara Kannada districts since the last some years." Targeted this time was the Panchaloha idol of Karvalu Vishnumurty temple, Erlappady village, a conch shell with silver foil covering, a statue "belonging to Hiriyadka Garody," and the Panchaloha idol belonging to Brahmavar Mahalingeshwar temple.
All were recovered when the arrests were made, and a van and motorbike used for transpart were also seized. Occasionaly, artifacts such as these are unearthed from controlled or uncontrolled archaeological contexts, but this arrest represents yet another example of targeted looting from poorly guarded, but actively used temples. Thanks again go to Mr. Santosh Kumar, local deputy director of police, and his Provincial and local detective colleagues. It will be interesting to see if further investigation of the (any) paper trail linking these statues to a pre-arranged international buyer, local middle-men, or even upscale 'final destination galleries, will be brought to light this time.
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