Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has sought the extradition of the Nepalese prime suspect in the theft of an antique idol from a historic temple in Kullu town, police said Saturday.
Accused Nar Prashad Jaisi broke into the Lord Raghunath temple in Sultanpur Dec 9 last year and took away the idols including that of Lord Raghunath, dedicated to Lord Rama.
Jaisi has been detained by the police in Nepal, state Director General of Police (DGP)Sanjay Kumar told reporters here.
He said acting on his revelations the state police Friday recovered all the stolen idols from a place close to Bajaura on the border of Kullu and Mandi districts.
Besides the idol of Lord Raghunath, the idol of Hanuman, a stone statue of Narsingh Shila (covered with gold), one silver Ganesh idol, a pair of Charan Paduka and ornaments were stolen from the temple.
Idols of Lord Raghunath and Hanuman are made of `ashtadhatu` (a composite of eight metals).
Kumar said the state police was seeking the extradition of the accused.
"Though India and Nepal has no such treaty, we are trying to bring him back to the country as the case is linked to religious beliefs," he added.
The Lord Raghunath idol is a historic one and has huge antique value as Raja Jagat Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Kullu, obtained it from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. It was then installed in the 17th century temple.
During the investigation, the police said it was revealed that the main suspect is a Nepalese national who was working in Kullu town at that time. He conducted a reconnaissance of the temple for four days before committing the crime.
With the help of the special Nepal Police his identity was established and his movements tracked near Kohlapur in Banke district of Nepal, a statement by the DGP said.
The accused, who was identified with the help of CCTV footage and tracking of his mobile phone, was detained Jan 22 in Nepal. On interrogation he revealed the places where he buried the stolen artefacts.
A reward of Rs.10 lakh was announced by the Himachal Pradesh Police for providing clues about the robbers. Interpol was also put on high alert after the theft.
Police called it one of the biggest heists in a religious place in the state.
The centuries old Kullu Dussehra and Kullu Holi festivals are associated with Lord Raghunath, the chief deity.
Police officials said in the past 15 years, at least 100 thefts had been reported from temples in Himachal Pradesh. Over 20 of them were major ones.
The hill state has over 2,000 temples and monasteries that are centuries old. Of these, 60 are under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India while 31 are with the state language, art and culture department.