Puri, Feb 27: The Puri police in Orissa on Saturday found 522 pieces of silver bricks, weighing about 18 tonnes 87 kg 750 gm, worth Rs 90 crore stored in four wooden boxes at the ancient Emar Mutt in front of the 12th century Sri Jagannath Temple, reports India TV correspondent Prasanta Patnaik.
The white-metal bricks each weighing 38-40 kg were seized after being informed by a man who was arrested recently while selling a few stolen silver bricks, city DSP R K Paikray said. The cache came to the notice of police after two persons, Barun Baral and Akshyay Das of Kuttam village from Dhenkanal, who had allegedly stolen a few bricks, were arrested on Friday while trying to sell them in the market, Satish Gajvayee, SP, Dhenkanal said.
Baral and Das were enganged as masons by the Orissa State Archaeology department during repair and renovation of the Mutt a few months ago. While working on the ceiling, a chunk of the cement plaster came off and fell on the wooden boxes below.
To their utter surprise, they found wooden boxes, called "Sinduka" in Oriya parlance, filled with silver bricks in the abandoned room. On the basis of information given by the duo, the police on Saturday found the bricks with embossed seals of UAE, Japan, China and Dubai. Paikray said one more box was yet to be opened as labourers are facing problem to open it as the room remained closed for decades.
Mahant Gadadhar Ramanuja Das (custodian) of the Mutt said he was not aware of the bricks being stored there. However, he said, his predecessor Mahanta Rajgopal Ramunaja Das had given a hint of "guptadhan" (hidden treasure) being stored in the Mutt.
Emar Math is one of the several ancient Mutts in the temple town governed by the Orissa Religious Hindu Endowment Act while Sri Jagannath temple is managed by the Jagannath Temple Act. Meanwhile, chief administrator of Sri Jagannath temple and Revenue Divisional Commissioner, central range, P K Mohapatra said as properties of all Mutts in Puri are the properties of Sri Jagannath temple, the bricks may be donated to the temple administration.
The bricks did not find a place in the list of properties prepared by the state Endowment Commission. Deputy Commissioner of state Endowment Commission said the actual claimant of the property would be decided by the court. Paikray said the police also found that a few wooden boxes were lying empty in an adjacent room and silver bricks stored in the boxes were believed to have been taken away by miscreants.
Speaking to India TV, Puri City DSP Raj Kishore Paikray said, "Since it is not possible to shift all the 18 tonnes of silver from the Mutt to any safer place, a special safety chamber is being built inside the Emar Mitt, where the properties will be stored with armed guards."