UK to Return Stolen 8th-Century Statue of Goat-Headed Deity to India

The Boris Johnson Administration has decided to return a stolen 8th-century goat-headed deity to India. The British media have reported that the statue of a goddess was stolen from Lokhari, an Indian village, in 1979-82. It is a statue of yogini, a female religious figure, which was worshipped by millions of Indians.

Christopher Marinello, an expert in recovering stolen and missing artefacts, has said that the statue has recently been found in an English country garden. "This piece is considered a god, not just a sculpture," he stressed.

India braces for the upcoming Diwali celebration (PICTURES)
Indian businessmen prepare their record-keeping books as part of a ritual to worship the Hindu deity of wealth goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, the Indian festival of lights Reuters

Marinello has recalled that Sotheby's, one of the largest auctioneers in the world, had made an attempt to sell the statue in 1988. Later in 1997, some unidentified miscreants looted the statue and other artefacts that were featured in "Sotheby's: Inside Story", a book authored by former journalist Peter Watson. Watson secretly filmed Indian dealers, who admitted that they had handed over a lot of objects to Sotheby'. Experts criticized the auctioneer not only for selling stolen artefacts, but also for encouraging people to loot such items from ancient Indian religious sites.

For his part, expert Vijay Kumar has said that the stolen statue is a unique sculpture, and it was his dream to find it. "I was actually beginning to lose hope," he stressed. Kumar further said: "Sotheby's, as I understand, pulled this from their auction, though that is still unclear. What was shocking was that they did not reveal the consignor or turn over the details to the Metropolitan police, even during the investigations in 1998, when Watson broke the story." According to Kumar, the UK could have handed the statue over to India before, as it was there for more than two decades.

Dead Sea Scrolls
Archaeologists from Israel have found new parchments of scrolls and artefacts in a desert cave. Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority

Meanwhile, the Government of Britain has decided to give the statue to the High Commission of India in London. It may be noted that the Imperialist British rulers had stolen many artefacts, including Koh-i-Noor (one of the largest cut diamonds in the world), from India during their 190-year-long Colonial Rule in the Sub-continent. Later, most of those items became the property of the British Royal Family. India and Pakistan have repeatedly urged Britain to return Koh-i-Noor. However, London has rejected the request.

This article was first published on December 5, 2021