March 21, 2023

A 440-pound metallic statue has disappeared from Guadalupe River Park, sparking alarm amongst group members who worth it as an essential image of friendship between San Jose and its sister metropolis of Pune in western India.

And by a wild coincidence, it seems that the statue has been kidnapped for the second time.

Standing about 4 ft tall on a big concrete dice, the statue depicts the 1600s Indian ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj using heroically on a horse with outstretched hand clutching a sword. Two plaques are hooked up to the bottom of the statue, and subsequent to it’s a pole on which the flags of India and San Jose rotate.

The statue was first reported lacking on January 31, when horse hooves had been sawn off. Police mentioned on Wednesday they’d no suspects.

Statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 2002. A small 440-pound statue went lacking in Guadalupe River Park on January thirty first. (Courtesy Suneel Kelkar)

Recognized primarily because the founding father of India’s Maratha empire, the statue’s topic remains to be extensively celebrated world wide, with an occasion to honor the Seventeenth-century determine to be held in Los Angeles in only a few weeks. Many guests to San Jose from India come to see the art work, in keeping with metropolis officers.

“Persons are very upset,” mentioned San Jose resident Sunil Ganu, who helped transfer the statue from Pune in 1999. “Many individuals are emotionally hooked up to this statue.”

He mentioned he was puzzled by how the crime had been dedicated. When the town erected the statue in 2002, Ghanu remembers crews utilizing a small crane to elevate it to its base.

“To chop off the legs, you want a really massive noticed,” he mentioned. “They’re three to 4 inches in diameter.”

The statue’s origins – and its first theft – date again to 1992, when San Jose first turned a sister metropolis to Pune, an inland metropolis of 4 million within the state of Maharashtra. As a present to San Jose, the now-deceased sculptor B.R. Hedkar despatched the statue to the town seven years later.

Sunil Kelkar, president of the San Jose Pune Twin Cities Group, mentioned he remembers when he arrived in america. He moved the “very heavy” sculpture with the assistance of three extra individuals from a truck outdoors to his storage. He saved it briefly till the town put in it.

However that summer time, Kelkar’s home was robbed, and the thieves took the statue.

Left to right: Sunil Kelkar, president of the San Jose Pune Twin Cities, former mayor Ron Gonzalez, and Vijay Pendse stand at the statue of Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1999.  A small 440-pound statue went missing in Guadalupe River Park January.  31. (Contributed by Sunil Kelkar)
Left to proper: Sunil Kelkar, president of the San Jose Pune Twin Cities, former mayor Ron Gonzalez, and Vijay Pendse stand on the statue of Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1999. A small 440-pound statue went lacking in Guadalupe River Park January. 31. (Contributed by Sunil Kelkar)

“They thought it was an artifact,” remembers Kelkar, who now lives in Santa Clara. “We suspect they had been some drunk children.”

A few months later, police discovered the sculptor after a jogger discovered him on a path in San Jose, Kelkar mentioned. It had solely minor harm, a number of abrasions, though the sword was lacking and required about $1,500 to restore. The statue was then donated to the town and put in within the Guadalupe River Park close to Taylor Road. In accordance with Kelkar, the statue was repaired once more a few years after it rusted, at a price of $3,000.

And in case you thought this journey could not get any weirder, there’s one other unsolved thriller.

The town’s worldwide affairs supervisor, Joe Hedges, mentioned Wednesday that his data from the Nineteen Nineties present the statue is manufactured from bronze.

However final summer time, a metropolis clerk found {that a} piece had fallen off of it, which Hedges says is uncommon for a bronze statue. This made the town suppose it was constructed from another metallic. Kelkar believes that the statue is manufactured from iron.

The fabric could make a giant distinction if a thief – or thieves – tries to promote the statue.

A 440-pound iron statue would value as little as 20 cents a pound, whereas a bronze statue would value $2 a pound, starting from $88 to $880, in keeping with metallic store sellers within the metropolis. Hedges remembers that in 1999 the statue was valued at about $5,000 — or practically $9,000 adjusted for at the moment’s inflation.

The lacking statue case isn’t the primary time an essential metropolis artifact has been stolen.

In 2018, a classic neon signal from the Fifties was stolen from Lowe’s residence enchancment retailer. Police obtained video proof of the incident that hyperlinks the crime to an unnamed individual in Campbell. The Orchard Provide {Hardware} signal was restored and later put in within the Historic Park.

Different monuments have been intentionally moved – or are at risk of being eliminated – resulting from their controversial previous.

In 2018, the Metropolis Corridor statue of Christopher Columbus was eliminated and finally moved to the Italian American Heritage Basis constructing. In 2021, the Metropolis Council voted to take away the statue of Captain Thomas Fallon elevating the American flag situated on the intersection of St. James and Julian Streets, though it nonetheless stands.

However for Kelkar, stealing Shivaji Maharaj simply does not make any sense.

“This isn’t a statue of Columbus,” he mentioned. “It is not one thing like that. I am simply amazed at the way it occurred.”

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