‘PM’s intervention during foreign tours getting us our stolen artefacts’

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Prahlad Singh Patel (Photo: Twitter)

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interventions are helping India get back some of its priceless stolen artefacts, says Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel. “This could be made possible because Prime Minister Modi paid attention to these aspects during his foreign tours,” Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel told IANS, beaming in the glory of three bronze idols of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Goddess Sita, which are being brought back from Britain after being stolen from Tamil Nadu more than four decades ago, in 1978.

These idols belong to a temple built during the Vijayanagara era in Anandamangalam in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. As per the investigation carried out by the Idol wing of Tamil Nadu police, these idols were stolen from the Sri Rajagopal Vishnu Temple in November of 1978. After four long decades, these heritages are now being brought back to India and handed over to the state government.

Patel took a subtle jibe at the previous governments for not doing enough in this regard. “Rules were always there. We could always bring back our (stolen) heritages. Point is, how agencies work and how efficiently foreign ministry takes it up,” Patel told IANS.

Making a clear demarcation between the Modi era and the pre-Modi era, Patel said, a total of 40 antiquities have so far been retrieved from abroad and brought back to India since 2014. He added that number stood at a dismal 13, when it comes to bringing back such antiquities, before 2014.

In August last year, the India Pride Project touched base with the Indian High Commission in London to inform them about statues from Vijayanagara period temples that were smuggled out, likely to the United Kingdom. After intensive multi-agency efforts in India and coordination with the Art and Antique Unit of the London Metropolitan Police, they were finally handed over to the Indian High Commission there on September 15 this year.

The bronze idols of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Goddess Sita, which are now in India and will soon return to Tamil Nadu, from where it was stolen from in 1978, are the masterpieces of Indian Metal Art and stylistically, can be dated back to the 13th century AD.

This year alone, eight such artefacts are being brought back to the country. The Culture Ministry said, three antiquities are being brought from Australia and five from Britain. (IANS)

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