Two 'priests' held for possessing antique idols

Kadapa : Two "priests" from Kerala were arrested for possessing 28 antique idols and unaccounted cash of Rs 8.81 lakh from YSR district, a senior police officer said on Monday.

Raghavendra Theerta Swami (41) and his disciple K K Lakshimikanth Prabhu (42) were arrested yesterday by Kadapa Rural Police from Indira Nagar colony in Chinta Komma Dinne mandal (block) in the district, they said.

According to district police superintendent Sundar Kumar Das, Swami is an accused in a criminal case registered against him in Ernakulam police station in Kochi city.

Police yesterday seized 28 idols made up of different alloys, including gold, of different sizes, besides a laptop, six SIM cards, three cell phones and Rs 8.81 lakh cash from the duo. Twenty one precious 'Navaratna' stones were also seized from them.

According to Das, the idols date back to the 6th century. Police said the duo are natives of Srinagupuram Kodungalur village in Kerala's Trichur district.

Quoting Swami, the SP said the idols, precious stones and cash belong to Sri Kasi Math Samstan where he holds post as '21 Peetadhipathi'. The accused, however, failed to furnish any documentary evidence in support of his claims.

Police said the accused also claimed that Tirupathi district court has directed him to hand over the religious articles to Swami Sudheendra Teerth of Sri Kasi Math Samstan but he was possessing them as an appeal was pending in the AP High Court in this regard.

The SP said the duo will be handed over to Kerala police for further investigations.