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UK museum signs agreement with the Indian government to repatriate seven artefacts including six stolen from Indian temples and shrines

The seven artefacts include a 14th-century Indo-Persian sword and an 11th-century carved stone door jamb taken from a temple in Kanpur.

In a first, a museum based in the Scottish city of Glasgow in the United Kingdom signed an agreement with the Indian government to repatriate seven artefacts including a 14th-century Indo-Persian sword and an 11th-century carved stone door jamb taken from a temple in Kanpur.

Notably, 6 of the 7 artefacts were stolen from temples and shrines in various Northern Indian states during the nineteenth century, while the seventh was bought after the owner was robbed. All seven objects were ‘gifted’ to the collection of the University of Glasgow.

According to a statement from Glasgow Life, a charitable organisation which runs the city’s museums, the transfer of ownership took place on Friday in the presence of Indian High Commission officials.

The delegates from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India with Glasgow Life Museum authorities (source: Glasgow Life)

Following the meeting at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, delegates from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India were given access to the objects at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, where they are safely stored.

The transfer of ownership ceremony took place after Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee approved a recommendation made in April by the cross-party Working Group for Repatriation and Spoliation to return 51 items to India, Nigeria, and the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux tribes in South Dakota, US.

“Glasgow Life Museums has been working on the repatriation of the Indian artefacts, alongside the High Commission of India in London, since January 2021. The antiquities include a ceremonial Indo-Persian tulwar (sword) which is believed to date back to the 14th century and an 11th-century carved stone door jamb taken from a Hindu temple in Kanpur,” the statement said.

According to Duncan Dornan, Head of Museums and Collections at Glasgow Life, “The transfer of ownership of the Indian antiquities represents a significant step for Glasgow, with the city continuing its positive repatriation history by ensuring these cultural artefacts are placed back in the hands of their legitimate owners.”

The Indian High Commission and the British High Commission must be commended for their cooperation and support. We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Indian authorities to ensure the safe return of these artefacts, he added.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life and Convenor for Culture, Sport and International Relations for Glasgow City Council, said, “The repatriation of these objects is of great historical and cultural importance to both Glasgow and India, so it’s a privilege to welcome Indian dignitaries to our city for such a momentous occasion.”

Meanwhile, speaking about the agreement, India’s Acting High Commissioner, Sujit Ghosh said that these artefacts are an integral part of India’s civilisational heritage and will now be sent back home.

“We express our appreciation to all the stakeholders who made this possible, especially Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council,” Ghosh said. 

Notably, the Narendra Modi government has over the last seven years, managed to bring back almost 200 antique artefacts from foreign countries since 2014.

PM Narendra Modi brought back 157 artefacts and antiquities returned by the United States

Last year in September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought back home 157 artefacts and antiquities from the United States. According to reports, the artefacts and antiquities were handed over by the United States administration to Prime Minister Modi. Among the Artefacts & antiquities returned by the US administration included an 18th-century sword with the name of Sikh Guru Hargobind Das in Persian.

According to reports, around 71 artefacts among those were cultural while 60 among them were connected to Hinduism, 16 belonged to Buddhism and 9 were connected to Jainism. Most of the items largely belonged to the period between the 11th & 14th centuries. However, some were much older, like a copper anthropomorphic object from 2000BC and a terracotta vase from 2nd CE.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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