US Returns 105 Antiquities to India Days After PM Modi’s Visit

New York, July 17 (PTI) In the aftermath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s State Visit to the US, American authorities are repatriating a total of 105 antiquities to India. These artifacts range from the 2nd-3rd Century CE to the 18th-19th Century CE.

BY | Tuesday, 18 July, 2023
12-13th Century Marble Arch, from Rajasthan

A special repatriation ceremony was held at the Consulate General of India in New York, where some of the valuable Indian antiquities were handed over by the US. The event was attended by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Consul General Randhir Jaiswal, and officials from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

During the ceremony, Sandhu expressed that the 100 antiquities being repatriated to India are not merely art, but an integral part of their heritage, culture, and religion. He further stated that when this lost heritage returns home, it is received with deep emotion. The antiquities will soon be transported to India.

The 105 artifacts represent a diverse geographical spread, with 47 originating from Eastern India, 27 from Southern India, 22 from Central India, 6 from Northern India, and 3 from Western India, as stated in an official release. Made of terracotta, stone, metal, and wood, these artifacts span a wide range of historical periods. Around 50 artifacts depict religious subjects related to Hinduism, Jainism, and Islam, while the rest hold cultural significance.

During Prime Minister Modi’s State Visit to the US last month, he expressed gratitude to President Joe Biden for his assistance in the repatriation of these cultural properties. Sandhu also extended his appreciation to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security officials, and other agencies for their dedication and efforts in bringing these artifacts back to India.

Sandhu emphasized that to prevent the illegal trade of cultural property, India and the US have agreed to work towards a Cultural Property Agreement. This agreement aims to enhance collaboration between the two countries’ agencies and make it more difficult for smugglers to evade the law. He added that the return of cultural heritage is a clear expression of goodwill from their friends and partners in the US.

Jordan Stockdale, the Chief of Staff from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, stated that his agency, along with Homeland Security, has been investigating trafficker Subhash Kapoor and his co-conspirators for illegally looting and selling artifacts from around the world for over a decade. Stockdale mentioned that last year, the US repatriated over 300 antiquities to India and still has more than 1400 recovered objects that are yet to be officially returned.

India has been actively working to retrieve stolen Indian antiquities, which serve as living symbols of its rich heritage and culture, from abroad. The release highlights the close cooperation on restitution of antiquities between India and the US in recent years.

Since Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US in 2016, 16 antiques were handed over by the US, and in 2021, following the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in September, the US government returned 157 artifacts. With the addition of these 105 antiquities, the US has handed over a total of 278 cultural artifacts to India since 2016.

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