Pon Manickavel is a star cop who has been cracking down on the heritage mafia, arresting high-profile smugglers, and also corrupt officials
Pon Manickavel, an honest officer and a real-life hero is one of the most upright Police Officers in Tamil Nadu. He heads the Idol wing, which protects and brings back stolen Temple Idols.
Pon Manickavel has also dealt with allegedly rotten cops and moles within the department; like Khader Basha, who himself was selling away heritage that the police recovered
Pon Manickavel has always been on roller skates all through his service years, he has spent time in Intelligence, Central Crime Branch, and solved various high profile cases; before he chose to take up the posting in Idol wing (a position many officers thought was a “punishment posting”.)
Tamil Nadu is the only state whose police has an Idol Wing, as TN is prone to temple loots where in the precious temple idols are stolen. This wing was set up to protect and bring back the stolen temple idols.
Anuraag Saxena, founder of India Pride Project explains, “The Tamil Nadu Government themselves have admitted to theft of over 1,100 murtis. Reality is much more. Without Pon Manickavel and the Idol Wing, TN temples would have been stripped naked of their vigrahas; a huge victim to divisive politics.”
Head of the Idol Wing, Pon Manickavel has been cracking down on the heritage mafia, arresting high-profile smugglers, and also corrupt officials. It is reported this did not go down well with the locals. He became the victim of Dravidian politics, where politicians want to flame up anti-Hindu sentiments.
Chennai based activist, Mr Ranganathan tweeted “If Idol theft alone is ratting Dravidian Parties, what about other temple loot- Land, Jewellery, Cash & Heritage structure. All this is yet to be covered under Idol Theft wing”.
Pon Manickavel has also dealt with allegedly rotten cops and moles within the department; like Khader Basha (himself a senior police officer); who himself was selling away heritage that the police recovered. (Excerpt from Madras High Court judgement below)
Pon Manickavel with his team has cracked down the major smuggling racket in Puducherry, where they seized 11 idols, among them was a 1000 years old idol from Somnath Eswaran temple at Melapadi village near Ranipet (Vellore district). He is also responsible for bringing down the heritage criminals like Sanjeevi Asokan, Subhash Kapoor and Deenadayalan 
He is also known for his strict demeanour and penchant for crisp uniforms (he would even send back shabbily dressed cops home)
It’s rumoured that he was “transferred” when he refused to remove his shoes while entering a former CM’s chambers. Now that’s respect for the uniform. He is a Thevar, an ancient, steadfast, clan that has never backed down from a fight.
Many people (from within the police and outside) have claimed credit for Pon Manickavel’s work. They have presented papers at seminars, claimed the credit on social-media, planned photo-opportunities, etc
He has cultivated a network of informers; from nariyal-walas to auto-walas to gang members
Idol-smugglers have used all sorts of tricks. They have transported using fertilizer bags, retrofitted LPG cylinders, w/ garden furniture, in false boots of cars… but have all been caught by the man. A huge Seva to temples.
Few of his recent achievements
Pon Manickavel has brought back Two – 1,000-year-old bronze idols of the most powerful ruler from the imperial Cholas dynasty, The idols of Rajaraja Chola, and his queen Lokamadevi, which went missing from Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur more than 50 years ago, returned to Tamil Nadu. These idols were retrieved from a private museum in Ahmedabad, and these idols would now be installed at the Big Temple (Brihadeeswarar temple) very soon. 
His department has been cracking down on HR&CE Additional Commissioner M Kavita, engaged in selling away temple lands and property. She is in custody till 14th August 2018 on suspicion of her involvement in misappropriation of funds and gold collected towards the making of two idols at the Sri Ekambareswarar temple in Kancheepuram. 
He has single-handedly been exposing the unholy nexus; of Temple lands and Temple murtis mysteriously disappearing. This is despite the court order for strong, rooms, improved vigilance and enhanced Temple security.
Political and Other Controversies
The government had appointed Pradeep V Philip (ADG, Police) and Kader Basha (DSP) to the Idol Wing; in a glaring and controversial move; with many questioning why Temple protection would be taken away from the hands of a pious practising Hindu, to someone else.
Pon Manickavel has been chastised, disrespected, troubled and transferred… to the extent that he had to approach the courts for his reinstatement. After all the effort made by him to retain the post of Idol wing, the government plans to transfer the case to CBI.
TR Ramesh, acclaimed Temple activist tweeted, “TN HRCE Officials are ready to face hell in their next births but no possibility of conviction in this birth. Pon Manickavel’s honesty drives them desperate.”
Many people (from within the police and outside) have claimed credit for Pon Manickavel’s work. They have presented papers at seminars, claimed the credit on social-media, planned photo-opportunities, etc. Anuraag Saxena adds, “Most of us in the know of things, know who the real hero is. Unfortunately, there is a systemic effort to vilify doers, and that’s a shame”.
Anuraag jokingly adds, “Pon Manickavel is a Thevar, an ancient, steadfast, clan that has never backed down from a fight. I doubt that he will back down now”.
 1,000-year-old stolen idols of Rajaraja Chola return to TN from Gujarat Times Of India – May 31, 2018
 372 stone idols, 832 icons stolen since 1992, government tells HC Times Of India- May 31, 2018
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
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