The United States (US) has reportedly offered to repatriate another batch of 1,414 objects, three months after returning 105 antiquities that were smuggled from India.
According to official sources, the objects have already been handed over to the Consulate General of India in New York.
To verify the objects, a team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is responsible for Indian antiquities, will be sent to the US.
Once the objects are authenticated as either "antiquities" or "non-antiquities", the repatriation process can begin.
At this stage, the ASI has not been given specific details about the age or region of the 1,414 objects. However, the US authorities have indicated that these objects, sourced from various places, appear to have originated from India.
Included in the batch are various antiquities from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York, according to a senior official.
According to officials from ASI, the upcoming collection of 1,414 items is expected to consist of both antiquities and non-antiquities.
These objects will be categorised and evaluated based on their status as antiquities, taking into consideration the definition of what qualifies as an antiquity.
According to the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972, an antiquity is defined as any item such as a coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph, or other work of art or craftsmanship.
It also includes any article, object, or thing that has been detached from a building or cave, as well as anything that provides insight into the fields of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals, or politics from past eras.
Additionally, an antiquity can be any item of historical interest that has been in existence for at least 100 years.
Non-antiquities are decorative objects, idols, or replicas of original art objects that are used for ornamental purposes.
Over the past four years, India has successfully repatriated approximately 400 smuggled or stolen antiquities from the US.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed this matter during his state visit to the US in July, expressing his satisfaction with the American government's decision to return over 100 antiquities that had been stolen from India.
India is actively working to combat the smuggling of antiquities by signing a cultural property agreement with the US.
Additionally, India is also engaging in discussions and negotiations with multiple countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to secure the return of antiquities that have been taken unlawfully.
Officials have reported that a team from the ASI has recently returned from a three-day trip to Singapore. During their visit, they discovered 16 metal sculptures that had been stolen from various temples in Tamil Nadu.
FIRs had already been lodged with the TN Police's idol wing for these thefts. The ASI team was joined by officers from the TN Police idol wing to verify and confirm the stolen sculptures.
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