Patna: Four precious idols of Hindu deities were stolen early on Friday from a temple in Bihar's Vaishali district, police said. All the four idols -- of Ram, Janaki, Hanuman and Lakshman -- were made of "ashtadhatu" -- an alloy of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, tin, iron and mercury. They were stolen from a temple in Imatpur village in the district.
"A suspect, who is the relative of the temple priest, was detained and is being interrogated," a police official said. Ancient idols of Hindu deities such as Mahavira and Buddha have become a soft target of antique smugglers in Bihar with nearly 200 idols stolen in the state in the last five years. According to police officials, many cases of thefts were never reported due to lack of knowledge about their value in the international market.
Such thefts have been reported from Gaya, Bhagalpur, Kishanganj, Vaishali, Begusarai, Saran, Samastipur, Jamui, Nalanda, Rohtas, Sitamarhi and Patna districts. Except in a few cases, police have been unable to recover the stolen idols.
An official of the Bihar archaeology department said ancient idols made of "ashtadhatu" were in great demand in the international market.