Returning Of The Colonial Loot
Britain recently returned a number of old artefacts, reportedly taken away by the Britishers during the colonial era, to India. On August 19, seven such artefacts, kept in a Scottish Museum, were handed over to the Indian delegates at a ceremony held in Glasgow.
Among the items returned, there is an Indo-Persian sword and a precious stone. The sword is believed to date from the 14th Century, while the stone was taken from a temple in present-day Kanpur.
According to sources close to the Government of India, New Delhi and London have been into talks for the past 18 months over the transfer of artefacts, stolen by colonial British rulers. Sources said that a Glasgow-based museum signed a historic agreement with India to repatriate seven artefacts, including the Indo-Persian sword. This was the first such move by the UK Museums Service.
Of the seven items handed over, six were taken from various temples in 19th Century India, and one of them was also sold illegally to a third party. Later, they were safely stored at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. After a meeting at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the concerned authorities in Britain allowed representatives of the Government of India and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to view those artefacts.
It may be noted that Glasgow Life, a charitable organisation, made all the arrangements to return those items to India. Head (Museums and Collections) of the organisation Duncan Dornan said: “Glasgow has led repatriation efforts in the UK since 1998, when the city agreed to return the Lakota Sacred Ghost Dance shirt to the Wounded Knee Survivors’ Association. The transfer of ownership of the Indian antiquities symbolises a significant step for Glasgow, with the city continuing its positive repatriation history by ensuring these cultural artefacts are placed back in the hands of their legitimate owners.“
Dornan stressed: “Credit must be given to the High Commission of India and British High Commission for their cooperation and support. We look forward to continuing our work with the Indian authorities to deliver the safe return of these artefacts.” According to Dornan, Glasgow Life returned two 19th Century items made of Benin bronze, taken by the British, to Nigeria earlier in 2022.
In 2021, the US had returned many such ancient artefacts to Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, as well. Idols, terracotta and stone items, and even ancient scripts from various periods of Ancient India have been smuggled into the US over the years. Nearly 157 such priceless works of art were handed over to Prime Minister Modi by the US Government. This time, Britain has shown a similar gesture.
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