07 June, 2016

India Receives Over 200 Cultural Artefacts From US Worth 668 Cr

The United States returned more than 200 cultural artefacts estimated to be at $100 million (Rs 668 crore) to India at Cultural Repatriation ceremony in Washington attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

PM Modi speaking on this occassaion said, “When it comes to bilateral ties, it is the present that usually counts but heritage can be a great binding force too. For some, these artefacts may be measured in monetary terms but for us this is beyond that. It's a part of our culture & heritage.” 

Both governments and law enforcement agencies of these countries now have become more alert on trafficking of cultural artifacts and are not only working to prevent it but also to send it back to the place of its origin," the PM added.

Modi said many tourists don't want to see only modern sites. They want to see the rich history a place offers and historical culture.

Items returned included religious statues, bronzes and terra cotta pieces, some dating back 2,000 years, looted from some of India’s most treasured religious sites.  Among the pieces returned is a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar, a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period (circa 850 AD to 1250 AD) 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.

US Attorney General Loretta E Lynch in her remarks said, “that this repatriation will serve as a sign of our great respect for India’s culture; our deep admiration for its people; and our sincere appreciation for the ties between our nations.

“They represent India’s rich heritage – the imagination of its thinkers and the skill of its artists; the beauty of its land and the vitality of its people; the endurance of its religions and the influence of its philosophies.  And so they belong in India, with the Indian people – and today, that is where they are headed.  Today, more than 200 antiquities and cultural artifacts that speak to India’s astounding history and beautiful culture are beginning their journey home, where they can be studied and reflected upon for generations to come,” she further added.

She  said the items were recovered as a result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the work of the US Attorneys’ Offices, and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

“Protecting the cultural heritage of our global community is important work and we are committed to identifying and returning these priceless items to their countries of origin and rightful owners,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. 

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