Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a cheerful Indian diaspora at the Ronald Reagan Center and expressed happiness over the American Government’s decision to return more than 100 stolen antiquities back to India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the last day of his maiden US State visit, interacted with the Indian diaspora at Ronald Reagan Center here on June 23 (Local Time).
“I am happy that the American Government has decided to return more than 100 antiquities of India that were stolen from us. These antiquities had reached the international markets. I express my gratitude to the American Government for this,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “These antiquities of Indian origin had reached the international market through right or wrong paths, but America’s decision to return them to India shows the emotional bond between the two nations.”
Highlighting this point in his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I extend my special thanks to the US Government for this gesture,” and added that it also exhibited that the relationship between New Delhi and Washington is not business-centric but emotional too.
In a bid to rejuvenate India’s cultural and spiritual heritage, the Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is bringing back antiquities and artefacts from across the world.
“Over centuries, innumerable priceless artefacts, some with deep cultural and religious significance, had been stolen and smuggled abroad. The Government adopted a proactive approach to ‘bringing back Indian artefacts and cultural heritage,” said a Government release.
On numerous foreign visits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the matter with global leaders and multilateral institutions, and a total of 251 antiquities have been brought back to India, out of which 238 have been brought back since 2014.
In 2022 also the US authorities returned 307 antiquities that were stolen by multiple smaller trafficking networks to India, valued at nearly 4 million USD.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L Bragg Jr had announced in October 2022 that they are returning 307 antiquities valued at nearly USD 4 million to the people of India, and the majority of them were seized from disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor, a statement said.
Subhash Kapoor had assisted in trafficking the items from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other countries.
According to the statement, “Five of the antiquities were seized according to the Office’s investigation into Nancy Wiener, and one according to an investigation into Nayef Homsi.”
All the antiquities were returned during a repatriation ceremony at the Indian Consulate in New York attended by India’s Consul General Randhir Jaiswal, and US Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Acting Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge, Tom Lau.
Among the pieces being returned was the Arch Parikara, crafted from marble and valued at approximately USD 85,000. The Arch Parikara first surfaced in photographs depicting antiquity in a dirty, pre-restoration condition. These photographs, along with dozens of others depicting antiquities lying in the grass or on the ground, were sent to Subhash Kapoor by a supplier of illicit in India. The statement read that the piece was smuggled out of India and into New York in May 2002.
After that, Subhash Kapoor laundered the Arch Parikara to the Nathan Rubin – Ida Ladd Family Foundation, who donated the piece to the Yale University Art Gallery in 2007, the statement added.
In 2022 alone, the Office has returned 682 antiquities, valued at over USD 84 million to 13 countries. Since its founding, the Antiquities Trafficking Unit has returned nearly 2,200 antiquities, valued at over USD 160 million, to 22 countries.
“The untiring efforts of the Government of India have led to the repatriation of our rightful artefacts that reflect and epitomise the glory of our ancient civilisation,” the release read.
(with inputs from ANI)