NEW DELHI: To ensure the safe return of 157 precious antiquities from abroad, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has started drawing up a schedule so that the process is completed by the end of this year.
An official said an expert team would supervise packing and shipping of valuables from the Indian consulate in New York. “Transportation of antiquities is a cumbersome and time consuming process. It requires adequate preventative measures in advance. ... The dispatch will come in batches. We are hopeful that by December end, all antiquities will arrive,” he added.
The US had handed over 157 artefacts — mostly statues and idols made of metal, stone, and terracotta — to the PM during his visit in September. As per the PMO, 71 aftefacts are cultural and others mostly figurines related to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The items largely belong to 11 CE to 14 CE. While the copper anthropomorphic object is from 2000 BC, one of the terracotta articles dates to 2 CE. Nearly 45 antiquities belong to the Before Common Era.
After their return, antiquities will be sorted before dispatching them to states from where they were stolen. “In the absence of any records or FIR, articles will remain the possession of the ASI,” the official added.