A $5.6-million bronze Nataraja idol of the Sripuranthan temple and a $300,000 stone Shiva idol will be handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, on Friday. Both were stolen from Tamil Nadu and housed in Australian galleries.
A senior government official confirmed to The Hindu that the Australian Prime Minister would hand over the idols on Friday. The official said the Australian leader wanted to bring the two idols on his plane, but both were so heavy that a jumbo aircraft had been requisitioned.
In March, the External Affairs Ministry, through the Indian High Commission, forwarded to the Australian Attorney-General’s department requests from the Tamil Nadu Police for the return of the Shiva figure at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and the Ardhnariswara idol at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
In 2012, Subhash Kapoor, owner of the “Art of the Past” Gallery in New York, was arrested in Germany and subsequently extradited to India. He is accused of conspiracy to commit burglary and smuggling of antique idols of Hindu deities belonging to the Chola Period (11th-12th Century AD) from Tamil Nadu.