UK restores three idols stolen from Tamil Nadu temple again to India

London, September 15

A set of three idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu a long time in the past, have been restored to the Indian authorities on Tuesday after a collector voluntarily supplied handy it again on discovering their true historical past.

The theft dates again to 1978 and led to an investigation by the Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu Police working together with colleagues within the Metropolitan Police in London.

The unnamed collector, who had acquired the statues in good religion, was knowledgeable about their doubtful provenance by the Met Police.

After matching them up with archival images from the 1950s held on the French School in Pondicherry, it was proved that the idols in his possession have been these belonging to the Vijayanagara interval and stolen from Sri Rajagopalaswami Temple at Ananthamangalam in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.

In a ceremony streamed from India House in London in step with the restrict on gatherings because of the COVID-19 restrictions, monks from Sri Murugan Temple in London performed a brief spiritual ceremony for his or her handover to India.

“Today marks the successful completion of the search and rescue operation of these very beautiful idols, which were consecrated and worshipped side by side for years. We wanted to ensure these deities were handled with due reverence and propriety before they are shipped back to India,” mentioned Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar.

“On behalf of the government of India, I hope this will inspire museums and collectors to carefully look and check their collections and help us restore deities that belong to the people of India and have been worshipped for centuries,” she mentioned.

The UK-based collector behind the handover, who has chosen to remain nameless, was described as a lover of Indian artwork and tradition.

Addressing the digital occasion, officers from the state authorities of Tamil Nadu praised his voluntary intervention and expressed the hope that no additional motion can be taken in opposition to him.

“The voluntary handover of these idols highlight two enforcement issues: the need for effective communication and dialogue, and the proper documentation of all cultural heritage, which would not only act as a deterrent to thefts but also help as evidence without which the outcome of this case may have been very different,” mentioned Tim Wright, from the Metropolitan Police.

Minister of Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel, connecting nearly to the occasion from Delhi, welcomed the repatriation of the statues, which he mentioned was amongst over 40 “priceless” stolen artefacts restored to India since 2014.

He additionally revealed that documentation from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and different consultants has been collated for the British Museum as a part of efforts to hunt the repatriation of one other idol which belongs in India. PTI

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