GUWAHATI/NALBARI, May 1 - More than five months after the centuries-old idol of Maa Tara was stolen from the historic Ugratara Devalaya of Guwahati, a team of Golaghat police last night recovered the eight-metal alloy idol that was hidden in a pond at Doloigaon village under Tihu police station in Nalbari district.
Interestingly, Guwahati police, which had arrested some accused immediately after the idol was stolen, had no clue about the developments. Whether Guwahati police made the arrests to deflect the public and media glare is a question that demands an answer.
The idol was stolen on November 16 last year after which a special investigation team (SIT) was formed by the Assam Police, which, however, failed to fetch any results.
The Golaghat police led by ASP Surjeet Singh Panesar under the supervision of its SP Pushparaj Singh, arrested five persons in this connection. The accused have been identified as Shan Hussain, Adil Ali, Rahul Ali, Mintu Ray and Samsul Ali.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, sources said the operation had been planned for the last few weeks under the supervision of the SP and it was only after corroborating the specification of the idol that the search operation was launched. A team of Nalbari police assisted Golaghat police.
Sources said it was cab driver Mintu Ray who helped the group of miscreants in surveying the temple. Immediately after the theft, the idol was taken to Nalbari in his cab.
�A few hours before the team led by Panesar left for Nalbari, police contacted a group of lawyers near the Gauhati High Court around 5 pm on Tuesday and then contacted a priest of the Ugratara temple near Jorpukhuri in Guwahati and showed him the photograph of the stolen idol to reaffirm whether it was the same idol,� sources said.
�The Golaghat police team then divided themselves into two teams and one of the police personnel posed as a prospective buyer of antique articles hailing from Dimapur. The police team also started negotiating the price over phone. The negotiation started from Rs 20 lakh,� sources said.
�The first tip-off came from a bike-lifter who was picked up in connection with another case in Golaghat some weeks back. During questioning, the bike-lifter hinted to the presence of an antique item in Nalbari, after which the investigators started connecting the dots, which eventually led to the recovery,� sources added.
�Some parts of the idol are still to be recovered,� sources added.
When contacted, Panesar said that two more accused involved in the theft case are still on the run.
Meanwhile, the news of recovery of the idol has infused a sense of relief and enthusiasm among the devotees who turned up in good number to rejoice the development in Guwahati.
Local resident Bijon Kumar Mahajan said the fact that the idol has been recovered a day before a new idol was to be set up in the temple has brought enormous joy to the devotees.