Gold ornaments worth over Rs 20 lakh and Rs 5 lakh in cash were allegedly burgled from a Jain temple in Akkipete, Chickpet, on Saturday night.
The burglary, targeting Sri Vasu Poojya Swami Jain Swetambar Moorti Poojak Sangh, dedicated to prominent Jain Thirthankara Vasu Poojya Swami, appeared to have been meticulously planned and executed by a group of four or five people, all masked.
The burglars rendered unconscious five security guards on duty at the two-floor temple on Obaiah Lane by allegedly lacing their food with sedative. They then cut open iron grills on the building facade, smashing six of the 16 CCTV cameras in the temple and fleeing with a box containing 440 grams of gold and cash in a safe and seven hundis (cash boxes). The burglars left behind small change in the hundis and fled with currency notes.
The premises has two temples, one on the ground and another on the first floor. The guards stay on the second floor.
The incident came to light around 5.30am when the chief priest of the temple arrived for morning prayers. He saw a security guard coming down the stairs vomiting. The guard could not answer the priest's questions and blabbered something in reply. On finding the four other security guards of the temple in an unconscious state upstairs, the priest called for help and the men were rushed to Victoria Hospital.
The men gained consciousness by Sunday afternoon and told police that they felt dizzy after having dinner around 9.30pm.They said they do not recollect what happened after that.
All the five guards have been working with the temple for many years. Nagveer Bahadur joined when the temple was established 20 years ago, Lal Bahadur has been in service for the past decade, while Jungveer Bahadur, Paramesh Bahadur and Prakash Bahadur have been working with the temple for a couple of years. All five hail from Nepal.
The guards said they felt dizzy and lost consciousness. One of them dozed off on the ground floor where the sanctum sanctorum is, while the rest collapsed on the first floor where the temple's offices are located.
Senior police officers who inspected the spot said it was a well-planned burglary. They said it is not clear how the burglars breached the first layer of defence. "But we have some footage from the remaining 10 CCTV cameras in the temple and they have provided us some leads," they said. However, the burglars had their faces covered, they added.
A temple official, Prakashmal C Jain, said there are three points of entry from outside and the burglars may have come from the rear entrance.
The burglars cut open the iron mesh and grills of a tall window to get into the inner temple premises. Four of the 10 two-inch grills were cut, opening a gap of one metre through which they entered the inner temple premises.
The main door of the sanctum sanctorum on the ground floor was broken open. Police suspect that the burglars might have done it expecting jewels adorning the idol. However, the jewels are removed every night and kept in a safe cupboard in the main hall within the inner temple premises.
The cupboard was broken and its contents, about 440 grams of gold ornaments that decorate the idol of the thirthankara, were taken. Seven cash boxes, five on the ground floor and two on the first floor, were damaged, with its small change littered around and currency notes missing. Temple authorities estimate that about Rs 2 lakh might have been lost from the seven hundis.
The office of the trust that runs the temple, located on the ground floor, was broken open. An almirah in the office had been broken open and Rs 3 lakh kept in it burgled, police said.