UK Hands Over Three Stolen Idols From 1978 To India

The handover ceremony at India House was attended by officials of the Metropolitan Police and remotely by Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, India.

Jessica David

September 21, 2020

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On Tuesday (September 15), the British Police handed over to India, ancient idols of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita that were stolen from Tamil Nadu in 1978, as part of growing efforts to return artefacts of India’s cultural heritage from across the world. The handover ceremony at India House was attended by officials of the Metropolitan Police and remotely by Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel from New Delhi, as well as officials in Chennai. The idols, being sent back to Tamil Nadu, were stolen from a temple built in the Vijayanagar period in the Nagapattinam district.

They were voluntarily handed over to the police by an unidentified UK-based collector when informed that they were stolen property. Information from S Vijay Kumar of the India Pride Project helped trace and identify the idols, officials said. Patel said that only 13 antique items were returned to India between 1947 and 2014, but after that, more than 40 such antiquities have returned home. “Efforts are also on to return one idol from the British Museum.”

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