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Modi government has brought back 200 stolen antiquities, UPA only 1

NewsModi government has brought back 200 stolen antiquities, UPA only 1

New Delhi: Over the last seven years, the Narendra Modi government has been instrumental in bringing back over 200 stolen antiquities to India from across the world worth millions of dollars, while the previous UPA government was able to bring back just one stolen artefact or antiquity to India, in its 10 years of government.

Last year alone, the Modi government was able to bring back 159 stolen antiquities to India, with the largest number of such items coming from the United States. Some 157 such antiquities worth hundreds of million dollars were brought back from the US, while one each from the UK and Canada were brought back last year.

These 157 antiquities and artefacts brought back from the US were handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by US President Joe Biden during the Indian PM’s visit to the US last year as part of the two countries’ commitment towards strengthening efforts in combating theft, illicit trading and smuggling of cultural objects.

Among these 157 antiqui ties are artefacts, figurines related to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha earlier this month, the Ministry of Culture said that in total, nine antiquities or artefacts were repatriated to India from Australia, 02 from Canada, 08 from the UK, one each from Germany and Singapore, while 178 from the US between 2014 and 2021, while just one antiquity from France was brought back to India in the previous regime.

Even earlier this week, an 8th or 9th century Boddhisattva sculpture “looted” from the Devisthan Kundalpur temple in Bihar was traced back to Milan and Italy after a long search of two decades and was brought back to India. This statue is believed to be some 1,200 years old and was apparently smuggled out of Bihar in 2000.

Some of the repatriated antiquities in these last 10 years include Ardhanareswar from Tamil Nadu, Parot Lady from Madhya Pradesh, Durga (Mahismardini) from Jammu and Kashmir, metal image of Parvati also from Tamil Nadu, metal statue of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Devi Annapura, among many such artefacts and antiquities resonating Indian culture and ethos.

The Ministry of Culture has further informed the Rajya Sabha that between 1979 and 2013, only 12 artefacts and antiquities that belonged to India and were smuggled out, were brought back to India. The Ministry has also said that the Archaeological Survey of India has tightened its vigil on smuggling of precious antiquities from India and has initiated intelligence sharing with the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs.

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