However a year back a wandering devotee recognised the importance of the Lingam and told the temple authorities that it was a very valuable idol. Since then, more and more people started visiting the temple to have darshan of the maragatha Lingam. “It looks like the popularity of the idol had also attracted criminals to the temple and two weeks back a gang on bikes tried to break open the gates of the temple and the villagers had to chase them away. They had come on two bikes. The gang had to leave behind one motorcycle and escaped on the other one. The bike was handed over to the police. The investigators found that the particular bike had a fake registration number,” police noted.
Following the incident, residents decided to group together to have a neighbourhood patrolling team to take care of the temple security on a rotation basis. On Friday night it was Mohan’s turn to lead the team. But because of heavy rains and power cut, the team decided to call off patrolling at around 11 pm. When Mohan reached the temple around 5.30 am on Saturday to switch off the lights, he found the emerald lingam stolen, police said quoting the complaint from priest Ganesan. The one-and-half-foot tall emerald lingam was removed from the base using a chemical solution, police noted, after visiting the temple.