The ancient Lord Ganesha idol situated 13000 feet atop the Beladila hill in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, was found broken to smithereens in the forest at the base of the hill. It was reported missing on January 26.
Authorities now claim that Naxals may have deliberately destroyed the idol to prevent tourists from visiting the spot.
Located in the Naxal hotbed and on top of the hill, it is risky reaching the place. Locals say that many ancient idols have gone missing from around the region.
Being communists, and therefore atheists, Naxals can be expected to destroy Hindu idols. But if as per the locals, there was an attempt to steal the idol the Naxals can be suspected of having a hand in that as well.
They could have wanted to steal the idol and sell it to international idol smugglers and make money. Many of India’s ancient idols have landed thousands of kilometres beyond the shores of the country.
Authorities say that the Naxals must have destroyed the idol because they did not want the region to prosper from tourism. An ancient idol of religious importance would have attracted people in larger numbers to the area despite the threat.
The Bastar Ganesha idol was around 3-feet-tall and, according to Chhattisgarh Archaeology Department, was from the 9th or 10th century Nagvanshi period. It was first discovered in 2012 by a local journalist. The area where it stood was first mapped by a British-era geologist called Crookshank in 1934.
Locals claim that a couple of days before January 26, they had seen a helicopter hovering above the hill. They told authorities of their belief that idol smugglers must have tried to steal it when they failed and it fell.