Bikkavolu treasure hunters surveyed over 15 idols in Andhra, Telangana

On Saturday, the police arrested two of the four treasure hunters and seized a car, besides recovering the smashed Nandi idol and a hammer.

Bikkavolu: In a startling development, the four treasure hunters who stole the ancient Nandi idol from the 9th century Sri Golingeswara Swamy temple at Bikkavolu village in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district in their quest for diamonds, had actually surveyed and made a list of more than 15 idols at various temples in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The police have arrested Chukkapatla Prasad (30) from Guntur district and Kunchala Venkatesh (26), a mason from Kandukuru in Prakasam district, while Guvvala Bhaskar Reddy from the same district and Ravi Pantulu from Nellore district are on the run. All these four accused persons had prepared the list of idols.

The idols which featured in their list include Veerabhadra Swamy and Nandi idols at Unchala village in Kurnool district, Vinayakudu and Nandi idols at Yanamadula village in Guntur district, three Nandi idols at Guduru in Nellore district and another black Nandi idol in the same place.

Likewise, Nandi idol and gold coloured ornaments at a Sivalayam in Ongole, finely sculpted and embellished Nandi idol in Nellore and another Nandi idol atop a pillar in Vinukonda Shivalayam also featured in the list.

A white Nandi idol at Kuduri village in Nellore district, yellow Nandi idol at Injamuru village in the same district, black Nandi idol at Someswaram in East Godavari district, Sivalayam at Jagityala district in Telangana and finally the Nandi idol they stole from Bikkavolu completed the list.

Two of the four accused persons — Prasad and Reddy — are well educated with post-graduate degrees, who fell for the make believe tales of an accomplice, Pantulu, that ancient idols contained diamonds which could be cracked open.

Prasad is an MCA graduate while Reddy studied MBA.

“The educated but broke quartet superstitiously believed that ancient idols will have diamonds inside them,” said a police officer.

This crime assumes significance as the southern state has seen a slew of alleged temple attacks, leading to provocative politics being played around these developments by political parties to corner the state government, making accusations that it is allegedly anti-Hindu.

Following the police taking the temple offences with utmost seriousness and installing surveillance cameras in thousands of temples across the state, crimes have come down drastically.

Back in January, the East Godavari district police had caught a drunken butcher on camera for damaging the trident (trishul) of a local temple in Kakinada.

Similarly, even in the Bikkavolu incident, the police managed to capture the movement of a suspect on CCTV surveillance, though not very clear.

On Saturday, the police arrested two of the four treasure hunters and seized a car, besides recovering the smashed Nandi idol and a hammer.

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