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Stolen 500-year-old Hanuman idol to be repatriated from Australia

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It was recently discovered that a 14th-15th century Hanuman idol from the Vijayanagar period was in the hands of a private buyer in Australia.  

The bronze statue was sold to a buyer in Australia for $37,500 by Christie’s, in March 2014. The New York-based auction house and the buyer in Australia were both unaware of the statue’s stolen origins, Indian Express reported. 

It was returned to Indian High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra in Canberra by Australian Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman on Tuesday. 

“500-year-old Lord Hanuman bronze idol stolen from Tamil Nadu temple, to be repatriated back to India,” Union Minister for Culture, G Kishan Reddy tweeted on February 23.

“The stolen idol retrieved by US Homeland Security was handed over to @HCICanberra by US CDA,” he added.

An official in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is the custodian of such artefacts until they are handed back to their home state, revealed: “This Anjaneyar (Hanuman) idol was burgled along with Sri Devi idol and Boodevi idol from the Varadharaja Perumal temple in Vellur village, Ariyalur, on April 9, 2012.”

ASI said that in March 2014, the Hanuman idol was auctioned to a buyer in Australia. Upon discovery and consequent investigation, it was found to be the same idol that was stolen from India. US Homeland Security assisted the Tamil Nadu Police’s Idol Wing in the case.

Another prominent artefact that went missing 20 years ago, the idol of Avalokiteshvara Padmapani (Buddha) at the Devisthan Kundalpur temple in Bihar, was handed over to the Indian consulate in Milan.

It is likely to arrive in New Delhi within a month. The statue was created between the 8th and 12th centuries, and smuggled out of the country around the year 2000, the Indian daily reported.

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