Vijayawada: The Krishna district police arrested seven members of an inter-state gang of treasure hunters who were involved in the alleged desecration of the Nandi Idol at Makapet Kasi Visweswara temple in the district.

The arrested have been identified as A. Srinivasulu (43), C. Krishna Reddy alias Krishnaiah (30), A. Venkatapaiah Sastri (30), I. Vijay (29), M. Ramakrishna (30), Nageswara Rao, and Gopal Rao. All are from neighboring Telangana.

The superintendent of police of Krishna district, M. Ravindranath Babu, said the gang broke into the temple located under Vatsavai police station limits and tried to break the Nandi idol.

The investigation revealed that gang leaders Krishnaiah and Srinivasulu believed that diamonds were hidden inside the 12th century Nandi idol. The gang first broke the ears of the idol and left the spot.

Late, believing that diamonds and gold were hidden inside the peacock-like crest of the idol they again visited the temple. However, the gang found that the damaged idol had been replaced with a new one.

The gang asked the temple priest Yugandhar Sharma about the whereabouts of the broken idol. The priest grew suspicious and informed the Vatsavai police immediately.

The police arrested seven persons on Friday and seized tools used for the offence, including a hammer, a drilling machine, a crowbar, and two gas cutters. They also recovered mobile phones and found videos they had taken prior to the offence as part of their recce operations.

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