The Himachal Pradesh government is taking steps for the extradition from Nepal of a man suspected to have stolen a centuries-old idol of Lord Raghunath, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh told the assembly on Tuesday.
Nar Prashad Jaisi, the 30-year-old suspect, was arrested on January 22 last year in Banke district of Nepal, 45 days after the theft of the idol of Lord Raghunath from an ancient temple in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
Lord Raghunath is the chief deity of the Kullu Valley.
Since the accused belonged to Nepal, the state government took up the issue regarding his extradition with the union ministry of home affairs, said Virbhadra Singh.
He also informed the house that the revised draft of an extradition treaty between India and Nepal is ready for signing.
The accused broke into the temple on December 9, 2014, and took away the idol of Lord Raghunath, an idol of Hanuman, a stone statue of Narsingh Shila (covered with gold), a silver Ganesh idol, a pair of Charan Paduka, and some ornaments.
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He then moved around the country for some days before fleeing to Nepal where he was subsequently arrested.
The stolen articles had been recovered, the chief minister told the assembly during Question Hour.
"The government of India has clarified that the cases that required immediate attention should be taken up with the legal cell of the department of internal security," the chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio, said.
Following his arrest in Nepal in January last year, Jaisi's interrogation revealed that he was in contact with a monk in China to pass on the idols.
He revealed that he abandoned his plans for the time being to take the stolen idols and valuables out of the state as the police had sealed the inter-state borders.
The idols were dumped at a place close to Bajaura on the Kullu-Mandi border.
Idols of Lord Raghunath and Hanuman are made of 'ashtadhatu', a very valuable composite of eight metals.
The Lord Raghunath idol has historical value. Raja Jagat Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Kullu, had brought it from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. It was then installed in the 17th century temple.
In a written reply, the chief minister said in the last three years eights cases of theft of antiques were reported in the state. Out of these, four cases are unsolved and three are pending in courts.