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updated 10:20 AM UTC, Dec 13, 2023

UK Returns Stolen Antique Idols To A Hindu Temple In India

Unic Press UK: Three out of four antique bronze sculptures are to be returned to Indian authorities more than 40 years after they were “illegally” taken from a Hindu temple in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, says the London Metropolitan Police.

In a press statement Wednesday, the Detective Chief Inspector, Tim Wright, of Central Specialist Crime, said:

“The Met’s Art and Antiques Unit are proud to have been involved in the return of these idols to India. Not only are they beautiful and historically significant, they are of course of religious importance so it’s particularly gratifying that they are to be returned to the temple from which they were taken. “These three bronzes haven’t been seized by the police, but have been voluntarily disclaimed by the UK owner. Once he was aware that they had been stolen, he immediately recognised that they should return to India.”

In 1978, four bronzes were stolen from a temple in the Tanjavur District in India. The culprits were apprehended/convicted in India, although the stolen idols were yet to be found at the time.

In 2019, the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police were alerted by the Indian High Commission that one of the missing bronze sculptures had been offered for sale in the UK by a dealer; and the Police contacted the dealer.

In the course of an investigation, the Police established that the UK-based dealer had acted in good faith and did not commit any criminal offences.

The dealer, being satisfied that the sculpture was illegally taken from India, voluntarily disclaimed it. He further identified two additional sculptures, and volunteered to return the three in his possession.

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