A large number of idols and other cultural artifacts have been reported as stolen from temples, archaeological sites and even ASI protected monuments and museums. Answering a query Ministry of Culture recently replied that only 12 idols have been stolen in the past 5 years. This shows that even after the theft of hundreds TREASURE of idols from various states, which comes in news regularly, the data of ASI is still not updated. This figure is more in South Indian states like Tamil-Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, etc, as there are more numbers of temples and so they are a hotspot of these thefts.
Why is heritage crime a serious issue? Looting, illegal digging, theft cause irreparable damage to the archaeological landscape, and the knowledge that archaeologists hoped to glean from those sites about the human past is compromised. Looting destroys context and reduces an archaeologically significant find to showpiece curio. The economics of loot Economic condition of poor locals to turn to loot. They are the victim of the global market, exploited by the desire of dealers TREASURE and collectors who are the real villain. Price multiply 100 times over in the eventual markets in Europe and America. The plunder at sites.
The survey in which 15,000 archaeologists took part,80% stated that they have experienced first-hand encounters with looting. They also noted that these were not isolated encounters-i.e looting is frequent, iterative, and widespread. The non-reporting of stolen artifacts has long been a stumbling block in many of our unsuccessful restitution attempts. It created the perception that looting is not as rampant as activists like us say it is.
Collectors and dealers make use of it and try to influence TREASURE policy, to downplay the role of looting in global-antiquities trade, leading to a weak regulatory mechanism and poor policing strength. It is a very serious concern for those engaged in archaeological studies and for all the nation as well, as it’s damaging our cultural sites. So there is a need for a separate and specialized Enforcement agency for heritage crimes.