Shiva idol stolen for metal scrap: New Jersey police
Authorities have described the recent theft of a Shiva idol in neighbouring New Jersey as an attempt at selling the metal at a high price.
They ruled out the possibility of religious bias in the incident, according to various news reports.
The panchaloha (five-metal) idol was atop a hill in Wayne on the premises run by the Indian Cultural Society Hindu Temple. The Nandi statue, which was situated close to the Shiva idol, was untouched-apparently because it was heavier than the 180-kilogram image of the 'death god'.
The incident took place during Diwali, when hundreds of worshippers thronged the place.
"If there was a bias or religious motive, the statue would typically be destroyed or mutilated," Wayne police chief John Reardon was quoted as saying in the local New Jersey reports.
"My guess would be that 300 pounds of copper and other metal was stolen for scrap." The police chief opined that the idol could have been melted down in a day or two following the incident.
He pointed out to the recent spate of incidents in which different metallic items such as fire hoses, manhole covers and copper pipes were stolen.
Temple board Chairman Jyotindra Patel was among the shell-shocked Indian-Americans in the area and asked how such a big idol could be removed from the premises.
He expressed grief that the culprits had no respect for religious sentiments.
The cultural Centre and the temple were built in 2006 at a cost of 2.6 million dollars. The two idols were placed on the two-hectare site, not within the temple as such.
The temple authorities have announced a reward for those who could provide clues to finding the idol or the criminals.