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US Returns 105 Trafficked Antiques to India After PM Modi’s Visit



US Returns 105 Trafficked Antiques to India After PM Modi's Visit

(CTN News) – In a significant move fostering cultural ties, American authorities have handed over 105 valuable antiquities to India, from the 2nd-3rd Century CE to the 18th-19th Century CE.

The repatriation ceremony occurred at the Consulate General of India in New York, attended by India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Consul General Randhir Jaiswal, and officials from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Ambassador Sandhu stated that the repatriated antiquities hold immense importance as they are not just art but an integral part of India’s heritage, culture, and religion.

He further emphasized the emotional significance attached to the return of these lost treasures, expressing gratitude to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Homeland Security officials, and other agencies for their commitment and efforts in repatriating these artifacts.

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The artifacts represent a diverse geographical spread, with 47 originating from Eastern India, 27 from Southern India, 22 from Central India, 6 from Northern India, and 3 from Western India, according to an official release.

Made of terracotta, stone, metal, and wood, approximately 50 of these artifacts are related to religious subjects encompassing Hinduism, Jainism, and Islam, while the rest hold cultural significance.

The collaborative efforts of India and the US facilitated the return of these cultural properties. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s State Visit to the US, he expressed gratitude to President Joe Biden for his assistance in repatriating these invaluable artifacts.

This exchange has laid the foundation for a Cultural Property Agreement between the two nations, aimed at preventing illegal trade of cultural property and strengthening interagency collaboration, making it harder for smugglers to evade laws.

Jordan Stockdale, Chief of Staff from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, highlighted their ongoing investigations into trafficker Subhash Kapoor and his co-conspirators, who have been involved in the illegal looting and sale of artifacts worldwide.

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Despite repatriating more than 300 antiquities to India last year, over 1400 recovered objects are still awaiting official repatriation.

Stockdale acknowledged the close collaboration between India and the US, resulting in the successful recovery of thousands of Indian antiquities, emphasizing the commitment to prevent selfish traffickers from robbing countries of their precious cultural heritage.

India has been actively pursuing the repatriation of stolen Indian antiquities, recognizing their role as living symbols of its rich heritage and culture. The close cooperation between India and the US in recent years has led to the successful restitution of numerous artifacts.

Since 2016, the US has returned 278 cultural artifacts to India, with 16 artifacts handed over during Prime Minister Modi’s 2016 visit and an additional 157 artifacts returned in 2021 following the Prime Minister’s visit in September.

The repatriation of these 105 Indian antiquities not only signifies the commitment of both nations to preserve cultural heritage but also strengthens the bond between India and the US.

It stands as a testament to the mutual respect and shared efforts in safeguarding and celebrating the cultural diversity that enriches the world.

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