HomeNewsTN, Idol Wing gets back stolen statues

TN, Idol Wing gets back stolen statues

Three Bronze idols of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Goddess Sita stolen and taken out of the country earlier are handed over to Idol Wing, Government of Tamil Nadu at a ceremony held yesterday in ASI Headquarters, Dharohar Bhawan in New Delhi.

Earlier, on 15th September 2020, these Bronze idols were handed over to High Commission of India in London by Metropolitan Police, London.  As per the photo documentation done in 1958, these idols belong to the Sri Rajagopal Vishnu Temple (temple built during the Vijayanagara period) in Anandamangalam in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. As per the investigation carried out by the Idol wing of Tamil Nadu police these idols were stolen from the Sri Rajagopal Vishnu Temple in November 1978.

As a result of the continuous efforts of the Archaeological Survey of India, Special Idol Wing, Government of Tamil Nadu, and High Commission of India, London, these statues are now back in the country.

The bronze idols of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Goddess Sita are the masterpieces of Indian Metal Art and are 90.5-cm, 78-cm, and 74.5-cm in height respectively. Stylistically, these sculptures are dateable to the 13th century AD.

A total 40 antiquities have been retrieved from foreign countries to India since 2014 while only 13 such antiquities were retrieved prior to 2014 from 1976.

Theft of ancient monuments have become common in India. Though in recent years security around the museums has improved, we have not been able to achieve theft-proof environment.

Once the artefacts/antiquities leave the Indian shore (through illegal means) bringing them back home is an uphill task. Then efforts to retrieve and get them back to the country have to be done within the parameters of the UNESCO Convention of 1970, to which India is signatory. The Archaeological Survey of India has to prove that the object/sculpture in question is covered under the definition of Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972 and exported in violation of this Act. The basic difficulty faced for the retrieval of the object is to prove the ownership/provenance in absence of FIR or theft report lodged against the object. Usually, it is strenuous and time-consuming task with low success rate.

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