Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed the decision of the United States to return 105 artefacts to India, following his official state visit to Washington DC last month. On July 17, the Manhattan district attorney’s office handed over the antiques to Indian ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, at an event in New York.
The antiquities are made of terracotta, stone, metal and wood, and span the time period from 2nd-3rd century CE to the 19th century. The artefacts belong to diverse parts of the country, with 47 from eastern India, 27 from the south, 22 from central India, six from the north, and three from western India. Many of these were stolen by an American citizen, Subash Kapoor, who is currently in prison in Tamil Nadu.
Bringing the Indian antiquities back home has been a diplomatic priority for India since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. During his 2016 visit to the US, the US handed over 16 antiques. In 2021, the country handed over 157 Indian artefacts. In the last seven years, the US has returned 278 antiques to India.
Among the 105 items returned in July, around 50 hold religious significance for Hindus, Jains and Muslims, while the rest are of cultural importance.