CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu is all set to get back the 11th-century bronze Uma Parameswari idol, smuggled by notorious art dealer Subhash Kapoor to the USA and subsequently featured in a Singapore museum. The antique Chola dynasty statue landed at New Delhi on Wednesday.
“The idol was flown from Singapore to India yesterday. It had reached New Delhi on Wednesday,” Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) sources told Express. The idol would be kept at the Central Antiquity Collection in Purana Qila at the national capital before being moved to Chennai, official sources added.
Uma Parameswari idol was stolen from an ancient Shiva temple in Ariyalur district of TN, a few years ago. It was smuggled to the USA, where it was sold at Kapoor’s former New York City gallery ‘Art of the Past’. Meanwhile, Singapore based Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) had purchased it in 2007 at a cost of $650,000, unaware that that idol was illicitly trafficked. “But, the arrest of Kapoor by the Tamil Nadu police came as shot in arm with ACM volunteering to return the idol to India. We were able to establish the roots of the statue, thanks to an FIR registered by the cops regarding theft of idol,” an ASI official said.
ACM, an institution of the National Heritage Board, had officially returned the idol of the Hindu goddess to ASI officials at Singapore on November 6. The Indian High Commission at the City State took steps for ferrying the antiquity to the country, which finally touched down New Delhi by air on Wednesday. Asked about when the idol would be arriving in Tamil Nadu, an ASI official said it would be kept at the Central Antiquity Collection for some time. “Then, the idol would be transported to the ASI museum at Chennai,” the official said, adding that it would be handed over to the claimants thereafter.