Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said India will step up its efforts to bring back artefacts that have been illicitly trafficked out of the country.
Mr. Khurshid made this statement after unveiling a 10th Century stone sculpture of the Yogini at an 18-day exhibition, “Return of the Yogini”, at National Museum here. The 4.5-foot-tall sculpture will be on display till October 6. The museum is holding a single-object exhibition.
A quarter century ago, Yogini was smuggled out of the country and brought back from Paris last month. Noting that the return of the majestic deity signalled a major initiative in this direction, the Minister said: “We should bring back our stolen antiquities. The government will provide all the support in the endeavour.”
“It takes a lot of efforts to ensure the return of pilfered antiquities,” he said, hailing the sustained endeavour of the Indian Embassy in Paris.
Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch said the return of the Yogini was the first significant step in the recovery of India’s lost artefacts. “We have received information on some objects that can be brought back, but it will need sustained effort from the Indian Missions and the Ministry of Culture,” she said.
According to a National Museum official, India has been losing a large number of antiquities through illicit trafficking in cultural properties. “Many of these end up in the hands of collectors, and even in prominent museums of the world. The Yogini temples, situated in isolated locations, have become easy targets for local theft, which ensures their clandestine passage in the international market. For instance, the Yogini sculptures from Kanchipuram are now in leading museums across the world such as the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Freer-Sackler Gallery of Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and the British Museum in London.”