India returns looted archaeological treasures to government

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Looted Antiquities Preservation Trust currently has less than a million dollars to function as an NGO Authorities in India are returning 248 relics – valued at 2.84…

India returns looted archaeological treasures to government

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Looted Antiquities Preservation Trust currently has less than a million dollars to function as an NGO

Authorities in India are returning 248 relics – valued at 2.84 billion rupees (£36.13m) – that were looted from the country’s museums during the British colonial era.

The antiquities are from 113 museums in India and are part of a global inventory whose items were returned to the country by UK museums, which included the British Museum.

Britain had acknowledged it held some unlicensed ancient treasures, as it was the legal inheritor of these items.

The museums were the custodians of these objects during the period when India was under British rule.

“I am very happy that the books on looted antiquities will be sealed and the history will go completely into the collective memory of the Indian people,” said Gulab Chand Kataria, India’s National Art Museum director.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The British Museum in London was among those forced to return illegal antiquities to India

There are 1,761 Indian museums and 91 archaeological sites in the country.

India has set up the recently established The Looted Antiquities Preservation Trust. It has a budget of only 2 million rupees (about £21,200) but has so far only been able to afford to return six antiquities.

More than 6,000 pieces of memorabilia from India’s ancient institutions and culture have been found in the UK in the past, since the ancient treasure hunting became a popular trade in the centuries following the story of the Trojan War.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Protected artefacts, such as coins, can cause economic damage to the country

Protected antiquities such as coins and beads cannot be retrieved.

“In India we have recovered 3,426 valuable objects and works of art from various museums globally,” said Shantanu Goswami, vice-chairman of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), India’s national antiquities agency.

“This will definitely help in building a broader network of custodians to replace these relics.”

The UK has not expressed any reservations about the return of Indian artefacts to the country, with David Graham, head of its collection management and strategy division, saying: “We are happy to help return the treasure to its rightful owners.”

Source: BBC News

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