A Ganesha idol, believed to be 1,100 years old, was destroyed after it fell from its location atop Dholkal hill in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, PTI reported. The Bastar Police suspect the involvement of Maoists, who they believe may have pushed the idol from its 13,000-feet-high spot to stall development work in their stronghold.
Visitors to the site reported that the idol was missing on January 26. A search party found the broken pieces of the idol in the forest on Friday. The state government had recently sanctioned Rs 2 crore to develop the area as a tourist attraction after a local journalist discovered the site in 2012, The Times of India reported. The Ganesh idol is believed to be a remnant of the Nagvanshi dynasty.
Chhattisgarh Tourism and Culture Minister Dayaldas Baghel said an inquiry has been initiated into the incident. Dantewada Superintendent of Police Kamlochan Kashyap dismissed speculation that it was a failed robbery attempt, saying the sculpture was too large to be stolen.
Researcher Rajeev Ranjan Prasad told The Times of India that he had been urging local authorities to conserve and protect the site. “But the administration did not pay heed. It was a unique idol, and it is a huge loss to the archaeology of Bastar. The region has a history of idol thefts. Many idols are found unattended lying on the roadside and even under the trees,” Prasad told the English daily.