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700 years old Jain idol stolen at Ahmedabad

    Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Septembr 12, 2013: Theft in temples leaves society in shock. But the theft of centuries-old idols from derasars seems to have left society shell-shocked. And, the theft of the 700-year-old idol of Lord Shantinath from Prernatirth derasar on Tuesday has left the Jains of the city completely devastated. Why not? The idol, brought there at the time of laying its foundation stone, is believed to be 700 years old.

    “Such a situation vitiates the atmosphere. Thefts at religious places have become a big problem today. It is time all of us came together to demand stern action against such crimes from the government and the police,” said Neeraj Kumarpal Shah, businessman and trustee of several Jain trusts.

    Suggesting that background checks should be carried out on each and every employee working at a derasar, Shah said even the credentials of a priest hired for a derasar should be checked like that of the employees of any organisation. “Devotees should also be alert and prevent such thefts,” he added.

    This is not the first time that the city witnessed theft at a derasar. In February 2012, a Jain idol, made of marble and said to be nearly 1,500 years old, was stolen from a derasar in Visnagar, Mehsana district. However, the police succeeded in arresting the mastermind within a month.

    So, how important is police patrolling and strict action at such places? “Had there been intensive police patrolling, this would not have happened. Even before, such incidents have taken place for which the government had asked the police to intensify patrolling in and around religious places. But that hardly happens,” rued Jigar Sanghvi, a businessman.

    Two years ago, thieves tried to steal the idol of Lord Neminath from the Taranga Jain temple. As the idol was too heavy to lift, it broke and the thieves ran off with its head.

    What kind of money do these idols fetch? Must be a fortune? “The derasars are a good hunting ground for thieves because they often house very old idols. They fetch a tremendous amount of money in the antique market as many derasars have idols that are over 1,200 years old.

    Another reason is that at many derasars, the idols, particularly the smaller ones, are not fixed and hence it becomes easy to steal them even in broad daylight,” said Kirti Shah, trustee of Shantinath nu derasar at Saudagar ni Pol in Ahmedabad, adding that as derasars and temples are public places, entry cannot be restricted.

    “The only solution in such a case is to have strong security measures in place. We have built an additional strong room at our derasar to ensure that the valuables are kept safe,” he pointed out. – News & Image Courtesy: Daily Bhaskar

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