Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ICE to return sculptures to India today

Today the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and INTERPOL Washington will hand over 3 sandstone and blackstone sculptures to India in a repatriation ceremony to be held at the Indian consulate in New York (Press Trust of India 2014).

The sculptures date from the 10th Century, and depict Shiva and Parvati (Sikarwar 2014), valued around 2 million dollars US (Press Trust of India 2014).  The sculptures were looted from a temple in Rajasthan and later smuggled into the United States ( Press Trust of India 2014; Sikarwar 2014).

The return comes more than a year after investigators arrested an Indian antiquities dealer named Subhash Chandra Kapoor, in Germany in 2012 (Press Trust of India 2012).  In the summer of 2012, ICE searched his Manhattan storage units, and confiscated numerous artifacts from his Manhattan store valued at over 20 million USD (Press Trust of India 2012).

The Indian consulate in New York reached out to ICE in 2007 for help with the investigation (Press Trust of India 2012).

This act comes as a peace offering after months of tensions between the United States and India, one of which being the strip search of a female Indian diplomat, leading to protests and the removal of protective barricades at the US Embassy in India.

I firmly believe that art serves as an ambassador, and helps unite people throughout the world.  If my recent posts do not demonstrate this belief, I will stress again the the repatriation of artifacts are signs of goodwill, be it between museums/universities and countries, or between countries themselves.

Works Cited

Press Trust of India . "US to hand over 3 stolen sandstone sculptures to India." Business Standard. January 14, 2014. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/us-to-hand-over-3-stolen-sandstone-sculptures-to-india-114011400283_1.html (accessed January 14, 2014).

Press Trust of India. "Arrest warrant issued against Indian antique dealer in US." The Indian Times. July 27, 2012. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-27/india/32887872_1_subhash-chandra-kapoor-indian-antique-dealer-antique-idols (accessed January 14, 2014).

Sikarwar, Deepshikha. "Peace Offering: US to return 10th century artifact." The Economic Times. January 14, 2014. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/peace-offering-us-to-return-10th-century-artifact/articleshow/28771667.cms (accessed January 14, 2014).