Alappuzha: The police have made an arrest in the case of the loss of a holy ornament (pathakkam) of the deity at Sree Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha. He was identified as Viswanathan alias Kaliappan (57) of Chelakkad house, Upputhara in Idukki. The arrest was made by temple theft squad CI R Rajesh. The jewellery was later found in the offering box of the temple.
Viswanathan has been residing on the temple premises for many years.
The ornament had gone missing the day before Vishu last year. After the police launched an investigation, the ornament, weighing 12.25 sovereigns, was recovered on May 22.
The ornament came to the possession of Viswanathan from the flower garland discarded after adorning the idol. Police believe that the gold ornament studded with jewels was inadvertently thrown away along with the wilted flowers.
Though Viswanathan handed over the ornament to a goldsmith near the temple, he later took it back and dropped it in the offering box. The police are yet to book the goldsmith in the case.
The police version
Officials said that flower garlands removed from the idol are burned in a pit on the temple premises every day. Viswanathan often searched for some valuable items in this pit and had found money as well as small bits of gold. The neck ornament came to his possession in this fashion the day after last year’s festival. The ornament was covered with soot as it was burnt along with the flowers, so Viswanathan did not realize that it was the pathakkam. He took it to his house and broke it into pieces. As a result, a few jewels were shattered.
Later, Viswanathan gave the ornament to a goldsmith and got Rs 1,500. The goldsmith too did not realize that the item was antique temple jewellery. A few days later, a temple official saw Viswanathan searching the pit and told him that a valuable item had been lost from the temple and he should not take away anything from there. Viswanathan realized the gravity of the situation only then.
When the then Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan visited the temple, he gave a call to drop the jewellery in the offering box if any one came in possession of it. Viswanathan heard Prayar and felt that he should do the same. Subsequently, he took back the ornament from the goldsmith, wrapped it into two small bundles and deposited them in the boxes in front of the shrines of Guruvayurappan and Ganapathy.
Viswanathan had returned the jewellery on April 28 last year; they were noticed only on May 23 when the boxes were opened as part of the probe by the crime branch. According to temple records, the ornament weighs 60 gms, of which 56 gms have been recovered. The antique item with religious significance is estimated to be around 150 years old and is now under the possession of the Ambalapuzha Magistrate court.