External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday presided over the repatriation ceremony of two eighth-century statues stolen from India and recently discovered in England in London.
The theft took place in the 1970s
Let us tell you, between 1970 and 1980, the idols of Yogini Chamunda and Yogini Gomukhi were stolen from a temple in Lokhari, Uttar Pradesh. These statues were discovered by the Indian High Commission in London in collaboration with India Pride Project and Art Recovery International. The Lokhari temple is believed to have 20 yogini idols, depicted as beautiful women with animal heads.
The idols from this temple were stolen by robbers in the 1970s. It is said that the miscreants who did this work worked out of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Used to smuggle goods into Europe through Switzerland. These robbers stole an unknown number of idols. Many statues were broken and the remaining ones were sold. Also, the local villagers had hidden the idols.
Excited to take to India
Jaishankar unveiled the statues at India House on the last day of his five-day visit to Britain. On this occasion he said that he is excited to take the idols to India. He said, 'It is important today as we want to enhance each other's culture so it is important to ensure that cultural exchange is legal, transparent and rule-based.'
"Wherever something has happened differently and it is addressed I think it is very important, not just in this case but as a message that this is a practice that is not acceptable today," he said. '
Chris Marinello of Art Recovery International said, 'This is the fifth time that we have been successful in returning important items of cultural heritage to India thrice in Milan, Brussels and London. We work closely with the India Pride Project and when they identify one of these, we negotiate with the owners in an effort to reach an amicable solution.'
The goal is to take the legacy to the right place
Jaspreet Singh Sukhija, First Secretary for Trade and Economics at the Indian High Commission in London, is working with the India Pride Project, an organization that works to locate lost artefacts of India, to bring these statues back to India. India's High Commissioner to Britain Vikram Duraiswami said, 'What we want to do on these occasions is to find some acceptable and amicable solutions so that our heritage can be restored to its rightful place.'