PM Modi thanks US for returning trafficked artefacts

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra ModiFile

New Delhi, July 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday thanked the US government for returning 105 trafficked antiquities.

"This will make every Indian happy. Grateful to the USA for this. These precious artefacts hold immense cultural and religious significance. Their homecoming is a testament to our commitment to preserving our heritage and rich history," PM Modi said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, the Indian consulate in New York held a repatriation ceremony for 105 trafficked antiquities handed over by the US.

The antiquities will soon be transported to India, according to a release issued by the Consulate General of India in New York.

The development comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US in June 2023.

During PM Modi's state visit, India, the US agreed to work on a Cultural Property Agreement that would help prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural artefacts. Such an understanding will add further value to the dynamic bilateral collaboration between Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies of the two countries.

The 105 artefacts represent a wide geographical spread in terms of their origin in India, with 47 from Eastern India, 27 from Southern India, 22 from Central India, six from Northern India and three from Western India.

The artefacts which span from 2nd-3rd century CE to 18th-19th century CE, are made of terracotta, stone, metal and wood. Around 50 artefacts relate to religious subjects [Hinduism, Jainism and Islam] and the rest are of cultural significance.

The Indian government has been making serious efforts to bring back stolen Indian antiquities, the living symbols of rich Indian heritage and culture, from abroad.

In recent years, there has been close cooperation between India, the US on the restitution of antiquities. During PM’s 2016 visit to the US, 16 antiques were handed over by the US side.

Similarly, in 2021, the US government handed over 157 artefacts which returned to India following the visit of the PM to the US in September 2021. With these 105 antiquities, the US side has handed over a total of 278 cultural artefacts to India since 2016, as per the release.

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