India all set to get back 15th Century idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from UK

The idols were stolen from a temple, built-in Vijayanagara period, in Tamil Nadu in 1978. 

India all set to get back 15th Century idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from UK

New Delhi: India is all set to get back fifteenth-century idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from the UK. The idols were stolen from a temple, built-in Vijayanagara period, in Tamil Nadu in 1978. 

In August 2019, Indian High Commission in London was informed by India Pride Project that four antique idols--Shri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanumana, stolen from India, maybe in the UK. 

The Indian mission raised the matter with Art and Antique Unit of the London's Metropolitan Police and Idol wing of Tamil Nadu Police. Tamil Nadu police sent a comprehensive report confirming the theft of 1978 and also provided the expert opinion about the match of the idol with a photo archive.

The London Metropolitan Police, who investigated the matter contacted the present owner of the statue and conveyed Indian Mission’s request to return the statue as they were stolen from a "living temple" in India. The art collector had bought the idol on good faith including a check of Art Loss Register Certificates.

The vendor responsible for the sell is now deceased due to which there were no grounds to open an investigation in the UK. The owner of the Rama idol was also in possession of two other idols of Sita and Lakshmana which were handed over to the High Commissioner. All the three idols are being transferred to Tamil Nadu government.

The Indian mission in a statement said, "HCI is working on many such cases at present. We are confident that in coming days, with this partnership of the ASI, law enforcement agencies, and the independent experts, we will be successful in returning many more pieces of our cultural heritage to India."

The Indian mission in London in the past was able to get back to India, Bramha- Brahmani sculpture which was stolen from the World heritage site Rani-Ki Vav, 12th Century Bronze statue of Buddha, two antiques – a 17th Century Bronze idol of Navanitha Krishna and a second-century limestone Carved Pillar motif.

Earlier in 2020, the mission sent back Shiva statue stolen from the Ghateshwar temple in Rajasthan's Baroli to India.