Britain returns stolen sculptures of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman to India after 40 years

WION Web Team NEW DELHI Sep 16, 2020, 07.49 AM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

The theft dates back to 1978 and led to an investigation by the Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu Police working along with colleagues in the Metropolitan Police in London. Photograph:( WION )

Story highlights

In August 2019, Indian high commission in London was informed by India Pride Project that 4 antique idols --Shri Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, stolen from India, may be in UK. 

India is all set to get back 15th Century Idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman from UK. The idols were stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu in 1978. The temple was built-in Vijayanagara period.

In August 2019, Indian high commission in London was informed by India Pride Project that 4 antique idols --Shri Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, stolen from India, may be in UK. 

The Indian mission raised the matter with Art and Antique Unit of the London's Metropolitan Police and Idol wing of Tamil Nadu police. Tamil Nadu police sent a comprehensive report confirming the theft of 1978 and also provided the expert opinion about the match of the idol with a photo archive.

The London Metropolitan Police who investigated the matter contacted the present owner of the statue and conveyed Indian Mission’s request to return the statue as they were stolen from a "living temple" in India. 

The art collector had bought the idol on good faith including through a check of Art Loss Register Certificates. 

The vendor responsible for the sell is now deceased due to which there were no grounds to open an investigation in the UK.

The owner of the Ram idol was also in possession of two other idols of Sita and Lakshman which were handed over to the High Commissioner. All the three idols are being transferred to Tamil Nadu Government.

The Indian mission in a statement said, "HCI is working on many such cases at present. We are confident that in coming days, with this partnership of the ASI, law enforcement agencies, and the independent experts, we will be successful in returning many more pieces of our cultural heritage to India."

The Indian mission in London in the past was able to get back to India, Bramha- Brahmani sculpture which was stolen from the World heritage site Rani-Ki Vav, 12th Century Bronze statue of Buddha, two antiques – a 17th Century Bronze idol of Navanitha Krishna and a 2nd-century limestone Carved Pillar motif. 

Earlier this year, the mission sent back Shiva statue stolen from the Ghateshwar temple, Baroli in Rajasthan to India.