The United States has returned over 200 pieces of rare artefacts to India, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country.
The artefacts, which range from an idol of the Hindu god Ganesha to a figure of the Jain deity Bahubali, were reportedly stolen from museums and temples over the years and then smuggled into the US, says an India Today article.
Expressing his gratitude at the return of the ancient treasures, the Prime Minister told IANS: "We are very grateful to the government of the US and the President for returning a part of our culture. This heritage inspires us for the future. Usually it's the present that brings nations together, but sometimes it's the heritage that brings two nations closer. Over the past two years, various countries have endeavoured to return India's stolen cultural heritage."
A focus on heritage & culture...I thank the US government for the return of precious cultural artefacts to India. pic.twitter.com/9mxjtEU527— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 7, 2016
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted:
PM @narendramodi :There treasures are to be enjoyed by the entire world. Technology can help us catch those indulging in illicit trafficking— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) June 6, 2016
PM: My gratitude to the US Govt for the sensitivity shown to India's heritage. This will evoke great respect among the people of India— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) June 6, 2016
Prime Minister Modi has a packed schedule in the US, which includes an address to a joint session of the US Congress, making him the fifth Indian Prime Minister to address such a session. This is the Prime Minister's fourth visit to the US.