KATHMANDU, Dec 27: With the seizure of a conch shell in Kathmandu last week, Nepal Police has found a new lead on the stolen idols from the renowned Chandannath Temple in Jumla last month.
On November 28, about 21 idols were stolen from the temple that is located close to the police post and local administration office in the district. The thieves had broken the back door of the temple at night and had taken away the valuable statues, including the biggest Dattatreya statue.
Based on police intelligence about major possible junctions between Kathmandu and Jumla, police were able to seize the conch shell from a house in Kathmandu and arrest a man from Koteshwar, Kathmandu in charge of bringing the conch shell to the capital from Jumla.
The arrested has been identified as Udev Shahi, 34, of Siuna VDC-4 of Kalikot district. Shahi is a gemstone and beads seller and of late he was also found involved in supplying construction labors to Kathmandu from Kalikot.
“We are preparing to send the arrested to the concerned district as the seized conch shell has been verified by the priest of the temple and other local leaders of Jumla to be genuine treasure of the temple,” said SP Mira Chaudhary, spokesperson of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police.
“After seizing the conch shell from Shahi, the CIB had sent the shell to Jumla for verification,” said SP Chaudhary, adding that it has also been confirmed by the family members that offered the 'rare conch shell' to the temple. In Hinduism and Buddhism, the conch shell is considered as a sacred tool used during prayers.
According to the district police, the priest, Chandra Mauleshwar Giri, who is also under police interrogation, has confirmed that the conch shell was from the same temple. Though the shell was said to be stolen along with the other statues, Shahi has claimed that the shell was brought to Kathmandu about four to five months ago. The arrested man has also pointed out the involvement of another man in the crime. Police have intensified manhunt following the information given by the arrested.
Police investigators have remained clueless about the status of the other idols but have become hopeful after finding the new lead.
The temple had statues of various gods and goddesses, including that of Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Sita, Gautam Buddha, among others and were made of gold, silver and brass metal.
Police investigators assume that the statues were stolen one after another but remained unnoticed or neglected. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the regional administration office have given special attention on the investigation of those stole idols from the temple, which is widely regarded by Hindus as one of the most important pilgrim sites of Karnali region.