Two years after the United States depart of homeland security returned a dozen artifacts that smuggling cartels purloined and illegally shipped out of India, a team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials will fly to the US, hoping to retrieve180other antiques. These pieces — lost to the country for years — include stolen bronze and stone idols from temples in Tamil Nadu.
The US government had, during a June 2016 trip by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington, DC, agreed to return 200 antique pieces it valued at $100 million.
The process started with former US attorney general Loretta E Lynch handing over 12 antiques to Modi. They included two bronze idols 11thC-12thC idol of Saint Manikkavasagar worth of $1.5 million and a 1,000-year-old Ganesha idol stolen from a temple in Sripurundan, Ariyalur district.
S Vijay Kumar, the co-founder of the Singapore-based India Pride Project, an organization working to retrieve idols stolen from India, said US officials seized 2,622 artifacts from the warehouse of notorious art dealer Subhash Kapoor’s Art of the Past Museum in Manhattan, New York.