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Cops draw blank in idol recovery

    Patna (Bihar), November 30, 2015: Jain monks in the state and elsewhere have gone on a fast to mount pressure on police and the government for recovery of the priceless 2,600-year-old idol of Lord Mahavir stolen from a shrine at Lachchuar in Jamui district around November 27 midnight.

    “Several monks and devotees in different parts of Bihar and other states like Maharashtra and Gujarat have started fasting and are praying for the speedy recovery of the idol of the 24th Jain Tirthankar. It is a living, most revered idol of the Jains. We are not going to compromise on the issue,” said Kamal Singh Rampuria, the president of the All India Jain Shwetambar Society.

    Dozens of senior officials of different trusts related to Jainism such as Sanjay Badliya, the secretary and chief patron of Rajgir Virayatan, and Sadhvi Spraghya Ji Maharaj are camping at the site from where the diamond-encrusted touchstone statue was stolen. They have already announced a reward of Rs 50,000 to any persons who helps in the recovery of the idol.

    Senior police officers, led by Bhagalpur zonal inspector-general (IG) Bachchu Singh Meena, are camping at Lachchuar and supervising investigations in the case.

    A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed under the leadership of Jamui superintendent of police Jayant Kant for the purpose. A dog squad and forensic teams have also been engaged. Sniffer dogs led the police to the spot from where the idol was loaded on a vehicle,” the IG said.

    Meena added that the police were also hunting for local conduits of the criminals, as the area is Maoist-infested and the crime could not have been committed without local support.

    “Actually we are trying to ascertain and track down those mobile numbers which remained active near the temple on the night of the theft,” added the officer.

    Sources said the criminal investigation department (CID) has zeroed in on a few gangs involved in stealing idols and artefacts. Their whereabouts and involvement in the incident are being probed. Raids were also conducted in Chutiya forests in Giridih district of neighbouring Jharkhand as well as Rajla, Sirisiya and Vardaun areas in Jamui.

    On the other hand, Maoists, who have a sizeable presence in the district, have declared “death sentence” for unknown people involved in the incident.

    The spokesperson of the Bihar-Jharkhand regional zonal committee of CPI(Maoist), Laljit Koda, denied any involvement of the rebels in the incident.Admitting their strong presence in the area, Koda said the organisation had never hurt even a single Jain pilgrim. He added that the organisation, which had already started its own search operations, would award death punishment to the persons involved in the incident.

    Vipin Kothari, the president of the Patna Gujarati Samaj, said the local administration should take responsibility of the fact that they failed to provide security to such an ancient idol. He said delegations have already met Governor Ram Nath Kovind and chief minister Nitish Kumar and urged them to ensure the safe and speedy recovery of the statue.

    Another Jain businessmen settled in Patna, Suresh Kothari, said: “The idol is considered the most beautiful among all the idols of Mahavir present across the world. It can be considered our Mecca, Medina and Ram Janmabhoomi. We want it back at any cost and we are ready to pay any amount of money for it.”

    A devotee, Geetu Jain, said the theft had affected the sentiments of the entire Jain community in the state and triggered a sense of insecurity among them. “We are shocked. If the Lord’s statue could be stolen here, how safe can common people be,” she added. Pradip, a follower of the Digambar sect of Jainism, said several families in Lachchuar did not light up their stoves in their kitchens on Monday to observe the fast for recovery of the Lord’s idol. – News Courtesy: Telegraph India

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