London: The UK has rejected India`s fresh
demand to return its priceless artifacts like Kohinoor diamond
and Sultanganj Buddha "stolen" during the British colonial
rule, citing a law that prevents it from giving back the
"The British Museum Act 1963 prevents our national
museums from removing items...the government has no plan to
change the law," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
It made the statement in response to an appeal by
Gautam Sengupta, Director-General of Archaeological Survey of
India (ASI). The ASI is planning to join a campaign with the
support of UNESCO and other countries to regain the artefacts.
In an interview to The Independent, Sengupta had said,
"As efforts so far to reclaim stolen treasures have proved
futile, UNESCO support is required for launching an
international campaign to achieve this end" as India`s
treasures held abroad are "too long to handle" and require
"diplomatic and legal campaign".
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman
said that there is a strong public feeling on the restitution
debate and decisions are taken by museum trustees in which
politicians do not interfere.
"It`s a long-established principle in the UK, supported
by successive governments." The British law only permits
return of human remains and objects lost during the "Nazi
Mughal era`s Kohinoor diamond, Sultanganj Buddha,
rechristened as the Birmingham Buddha, Amravati railings, a
series of limestone carvings dating back to 100 AD, Saraswati
idol, a sculpture of the deity from the Bhoj temple, are among
the items on the ASI`s list.
There is a mounting pressure on the erstwhile colonial
countries to restitute heritage items as "not only India,
various countries like Mexico, Peru, China, Bolivia, Cyprus
and Guatemala also voiced similar concern" and are planning to
join the UNESCO campaign, the ASI chief said.