India retrieved 28 antiquities including 21 from US in last 4 years: Culture minister

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jan 01, 2019, 03:32 PM(IST)

At 14 objects, 2016 was the year when India got back a maximum number of Indian antiquities Photograph:( WION )

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India got 21 antiquities from the United States, 3 from Australia, 1 each from Canada, Germany, Singapore and UK. All of them were voluntarily returned, the reply said.

New Delhi has been able to retrieve as many as 28 Indian antiquities from abroad in the last four years from 2015 to 2018. This was revealed by culture minister in a written reply to the parliament. 

India got 21 antiquities from the United States, 3 from Australia, 1 each from Canada, Germany, Singapore and UK. All of them were voluntarily returned, the reply said.

At 14 objects, 2016 was the year when India got back a maximum number of Indian antiquities while in 2018 it received just two, the lowest number in the last four years. In 2017, India got back nine objects while in 2015 India got three objects back.

Tamil Nadu got back the highest number of antiquities with eight, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir each received two artefacts while West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand each got one. 

In fact, the statue of Mahishmardini was handed over by German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself to Prime Minister Modi during her state visit to India in 2015. The PMO had back then tweeted, "The statue is from Jammu and Kashmir & is a symbol of victory of good over evil"

From 1976 to 2001, India was able to get back just 13 artefacts.

In the written statement in Parliament, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma had said, "The Archaeological Survey of India is constantly making its best efforts to retrieve the antiquities which have been taken away from the country in violation of the Antiquates and Art Treasure Act, 1972. Efforts are made to retrieve such antiquities as and when surfaced in foreign countries."

Meanwhile, India has been pressing the United Kingdom to return Kohinoor Diamond. Minister of state in the MEA Gen VK Singh in 2018 in the Parliament said, "Mindful of the sentiments that have been expressed by the Indian public and the Parliament, the Ministry of External Affairs after getting the relevant information from the Archaeological Survey of India under the Ministry of Culture has time and again raised the matter about the return of the Kohinoor and other antiquities with the relevant authorities abroad. Government is continuing to explore ways and means for obtaining a satisfactory resolution of the matter."

A petition is pending in front of the supreme court--All Human Rights and Social Justice Front Vs. High Commissioner of U K & Ors -- in connection with the return of Kohinoor diamond from London, United Kingdom.

It must be noted that the antiquities taken away from India during the British Period and displayed in the International Museums does not come under the purview of illegal export.

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