VIJAYAWADA: In a major breakthrough over the sensational theft of the three silver lion idols in the Vijayawada Kanaka Durga Temple, Police arrested the accused and retrieved the silver items.
According to Vijayawada City Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu the main accused in the case of theft of the silver idols from the premises of the Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Temple on Indrakeeladri Hill of Vijayawada were arrested.
On September 17, 2020, a complaint had been filed by the temple Assistant Executive Officer N Ramesh Babu after three idols of silver lions fixed on the chariot of Goddess Kanakadurga within temple premises went missing.
The police had formed special teams and a SIT was also formed to investigate the cases related to temple theft. The Vijayawada police investigating the case had deployed three special teams. They checked whether temple staff, labourers from other states who came to do temple development work, committed the theft or whether it was the work of old criminals.
In the course of investigation they arrested Sai Baba, who admitted that he had committed the crime and that he had sold the stolen silver to second accused Mutta Kamalesh.
As per the Commissioner's statement in a press conference the accused Jakkampudi Saibabu (49) from Gollavani Tippa village, in West Godavari district had stolen the lion idols and sold it to one Mutta Kamalesh (39), a jewellery businessman at Tanuku Town in West Godavari district. The police have arrested both of them. "Due to COVID-19, devotees visiting the temple have reduced since March last year. Saibabu was a habitual offender since 2008. Working as a mason and as a farm hand during the day he would commit thefts at night, without anyone suspecting.
Saibaba came to Vijayawada in June 2020 due to non-availability of work during the lockdown. He came to the Kanaka Durga temple where he observed the silver chariot covered with blue cover in a shed in the premises of the temple near the Shiva temple. He observed that there were four silver lion idols and later returned to steal three of them," Srinivasulu said.
He then bought two iron rods from an old iron shop in Bhimavaram and reached Gudivada in an auto and from there came to the Vijayawada bus stand
Disguised as a rag picker the accused started wandering around the hilly area of the temple with the bag he had brought with him. On the day of the theft he went to the shed where the chariot was at 8.30 pm. He knocked down three lions with the rods he had brought along with him. Saibaba while attempting to remove the fourth lion could not detach it from the chariot and left with the statues of the three lions. He reached the canal embankment on the outskirts of the Tanuku where broke them into pieces and sold them to Mutta Kamalesh, the owner of Surendra Jewellery in Tanuku, for Rs 35,000.
Vijayawada West Zone ASP K Hanumantha Rao, CI Venkateswarlu, DSI Srinivasa Rao, Head Constable Srinivasa Rao were awarded for solving the case within 4 months. SIT DIG Ashok Kumar and DCP-2 Vikrant Patil were present at the press conference.
The police arrested Saibabu and Kamalesh and recovered 9 kilograms of silver blocks of silver lions.The police further recovered another 6.4 kilograms of silver blocks. A total of 15.4 kg of silver blocks have been recovered from the accused.