31 Antiquities stolen from centrally-protected monuments since 2013, says centretext_fields
New Delhi: Union Minister for Culture G Kishan Reddy revealed that a total of 31 antiquities have been stolen from centrally-protected monuments and temples under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the last 10 years.
In a written response to a query in the Lok Sabha, he mentioned that four of these stolen antiquities have been successfully recovered.
The stolen antiquities include valuable artefacts and historical items taken from centrally-protected monuments, sites, and temples between 2013 and 2023. Out of the 31 stolen items, 27 are yet to be recovered, and there is no available information regarding their illegal shipping abroad.
Addressing the issue, Minister Kishan Reddy assured the government's commitment to bringing back Indian-origin antiquities that have been taken away from the country. When any such antiquities are discovered abroad, the ASI takes immediate action by involving Indian embassies or missions through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to facilitate their retrieval.
Over the years, the ASI has successfully retrieved 251 antiquities from foreign countries, with 238 of them being recovered between 2014 and 2023.
Responding to another query, the Union Minister shared data on the return of 238 antiquities to India since 2014, categorised by country and year. In 2021, 157 antiquities were returned from the United States, and in 2022, 29 items were repatriated from Australia.
The government emphasised the ASI's dedication to safeguarding monuments, sites, and antiquities under its jurisdiction. To ensure their protection, various security measures have been implemented, including regular watch and ward staff, private security guards, state police armed guards, and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) as required.
In cases of reported theft of antiquities, FIRs are lodged with the concerned police stations, and "Look Out Notices" are issued to law enforcement agencies, including Custom Exit Channels, to enhance vigilance and prevent illegal exports.
Data shared by the minister revealed that out of the 31 stolen antiquities, 14 were taken from sites in Karnataka, with one having been recovered. Four objects each were stolen from sites in Bihar and Odisha, and all remain unrecovered.
The protection and retrieval of these stolen antiquities remain a priority for the government and the ASI, as they hold immense historical and cultural significance for the country.