New Delhi: An idol of Lord Hanuman that was stolen a decade ago from Tamil Nadu and smuggled abroad would be repatriated to India soon, Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy said.
The 14th-15th century statue, belonging to the Vijayanagar period, was discovered with a private buyer in Australia recently.
“Five hundred-year-old Lord Hanuman bronze idol stolen from Tamil Nadu temple, to be repatriated back to India. The stolen idol retrieved by US Homeland Security was handed over to @HCICanberra by US CDA,” the minister said in a tweet.
It was returned to Indian High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra at Canberra by Australian Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman.
According to the Archaeological Survey of India, this idol was burgled along with the Sri Devi idol and Boodevi idol from the Varadharaja Perumal temple in Vellur village in Ariyalur district on April 9, 2012. In March 2014, this idol was auctioned to a buyer in Australia. Upon discovery and consequent investigation, it was found to be the same idol that was stolen from India.
Sources said the New York-based auction house, which had auctioned the idol, and the Australian buyer was unaware that the statue was stolen. The government has retrieved around 212 artifacts, mainly statues in the last seven years.