Wednesday 30 September 2020 9:20 PM UTC
By A Staff Reporter
GILLINGHAM (Kent) Oct 1: Kerala Police have begun investigations into an incident related to an Ayyappa idol, manufactured in Chengannur in Kerala, which was awaiting to be shipped to be installed at the Kent Ayyappa Temple at the Medway Hindu Mandir in Gillingham in Kent.
The Ayyappa idol was manufactured by Panickers Granites in Karakkad in Chengannur which is owned by Mahesh Panicker and Prakash Panicker. The Ayyappa idol was supposed to have been shipped and arrived in the UK in May 2020 for the installation ceremony.
However, due to the international lockdown restrictions due to Covid this was not possible which led to the Ayyappa idol having to be kept within the premises of Panickers Granites in Karakkad in Chengannur.
According to Malayala Manorama report quoting the police, on Sunday 27th September, Mahesh Panicker and Prakash Panicker lodged a complaint with the police that a gang broke into their idol-making workshop and stole a 60kg idol which was worth 2 Crore (Approx. £230,000).
The complaint reportedly said that the gang, led by an ex-employee, arrived in bikes around 9.30pm and attacked members in the workshop and got away with the Ayyappa idol which was meant for the Kent Ayyappa temple in Kent.
Police were able to corroborate evidence that there was an incident where some persons arrived and caused a ruckus at the workshop. However, the police suspected contradictions in the statements of the complainants into the actual worth of the idol and also about the story behind who would have possibly taken the idol away and they began investigations.
The missing idol was found a day later from a stream near to the manufacturing unit and this was followed with the police carrying out further investigations in the motive behind the whole incident.
According to reports by Mathrubhumi, quoting police, the owners of the manufacturing unit allegedly wanted to trap the former employee, who attacked the manufacturing unit, in a theft case, and therefore they reported the former employee as the person who would have stolen the idol.
Police have also assessed that the idol was not worth 2 crores as stated by the owners and that only 14 grams of gold was used to manufacture the idol.
The idol is at present with the police for further investigations surrounding its disappearance and later being found in the stream nearby the manufacturing unit and also to assess its actual worth.
Speaking to this website Vijayamohan from Kent Hindu Samajam, confirmed that the Lord Ayyappa idol was supposed to have arrived in the month of May. However, due to the Covid pandemic which was followed by the international lockdown made it difficult for the idol to be shipped to Kent.
Vijayamohan also confirmed that he is aware of the incidents surrounding the idol in Kerala and hopes that all will be resolved soon and the idol will arrive to the UK in the near future.
“Kent Ayyappa Temple Trust & Kent Hindu Samajam is currently awaiting updates from the architects to ascertain the facts. Once received, the organisation will call a members meeting and will issue an official press release on this matter. We will also work with the Kerala Police and will provide evidence available to assist the investigation, Vijayamoham told this website.
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