NEW DELHI: A 9th century Durga idol, which went missing from a temple in Jammu and Kashmir and surfaced at a museum in Germany, is likely to return to India this week.
According to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) sources, the idol is expected to be handed over to the Indian Embassy in Germany on September 23 and will be flown to India. "The idol may reach India by September 26 or 27," official sources here said.
The Mahishasuramardini idol, showing the Goddess slaying the Buffalo Demon, was stolen from a temple at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s, official sources said. An FIR was registered in connection with the theft and investigation launched.
In 2012, ASI received a tip off that the idol was spotted at the Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany. Thereafter, the Union government started the process of getting it back. Two ASI officials visited Stuttgart for the purpose last year.
Armed with the FIR, which is a crucial evidence that the idol belonged to India, the government took up the issue with the concerned authorities in Germany and it is likely to be back here soon.
"The idol was registered with the Department of Archaeology of the Jammu and Kashmir Government, as well. We had submitted all the evidences including the FIR to German authorities for retrieving the Durga idol," sources said.
Police suspect the role of notorious Indian art dealer Subhash Kapoor in smuggling the idol out of the country. Kapoor was arrested in Germany in 2011. Sources said the idol could have been procured from his (Kapoor's) gallery 'Art of the Past'.
Kapoor was the subject of an Interpol red corner notice and was arrested in 2011 at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. He was subsequently extradited to India to face criminal charges.
In April this year, Canada returned a 900-year-old 'Parrot Lady' sculpture from Khajuraho after it was seized from a person, who was possessing the antiquity without valid documents in that country.