US returns precious artefacts to India

Published June 7, 2016
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits beside the statue Khajuraho, 12th century, made from red sandstone, during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, at Blair House in Washington. ─ AP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits beside the statue Khajuraho, 12th century, made from red sandstone, during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, at Blair House in Washington. ─ AP

WASHINGTON: The United States (US) returned more than 200 precious artefacts to India on Monday in a ceremony with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Justice Department said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands with three statues during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, in Washington, Monday, June 6, 2016. ─ AP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands with three statues during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, in Washington, Monday, June 6, 2016. ─ AP

The items included religious statues, bronzes and terra-cotta pieces some of them 2,000 years old which were recovered in an operation involving several US government agencies.

"The United States is committed to ensuring that no nation is robbed of the objects that inform its identity, shape its traditions and inspire its citizens," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at the ceremony.

"Today, as part of that ongoing commitment, more than 200 antiquities and cultural artefacts that speak to India's astounding history and beautiful culture are beginning their journey home."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi look at three statues during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, in Washington, Monday, June 6, 2016. ─ AP
Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi look at three statues during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, in Washington, Monday, June 6, 2016. ─ AP

The pieces included a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar, a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period, stolen from the Sivan Temple in Chennai, India, which is valued at $1.5 million.

Also included in the collection is a bronze sculpture of the Hindu god Ganesh estimated to be 1,000 years old.

Most of the artefacts were confiscated in Operation Hidden Idol, an investigation that dated back to 2007.

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