Retrieved over 1,100 statues in 6 years..!
A steady stream of visitors from various walks of life were queueing up to meet Idol Wing chief A.G. Ponn Manickavel on Friday, his last day at work. Only, by the time the day was out, wishes for a happy retired life turned into congratulations on him getting an extension of tenure.
Mr. Manickavel, who was set to retire on Thursday, was given a year’s extension as a ‘Special Officer’ by the Madras High Court to continue investigating the several idol theft cases in the State. Having made significant breakthroughs in retrieving ancient idols, including those of Lord Nataraja and those of Cholan vintage, the police officer is set to continue investigating the 113 cases filed during his tenure.
During his tenure in the Idol Wing in various capacities, Mr. Manickavel struck fear among idol thieves, going on to arrest high profile art dealers of the likes of Subash Kapoor and Deenadayalan. He also had a hand in arresting some government officials for their role in the theft of idols.
Mr. Manickavel said during his six-year tenure in the Idol Wing, he had retrieved 1,129 statues, including metal and stone idols.
The Idol Wing, which was created in 1983, had never been as active as it was during his tenure, which is reflected in the number of recoveries made: more than 1,000 idols as compared with a mere 300 seized during the tenure of earlier officers.