London, August 15: London’s Metropolitan Police, as part of a ceremony to mark India’s Independence Day, returned a 12th century bronze Buddha statue which was stolen from a museum at Nalanda in Bihar about 60 years ago.
The bronze statue with silver inlay is reportedly one of the 14 statues which were stolen in 1961 from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site museum in Nalanda. It is said that the statue changed hands over the years before it surfaced at a London auction.
The Metropolitan Police said that they cooperated with the Met’s Art and Antiques Unit and agreed to return their statue to India after the dealer and the owner were made aware that the sculpture was the one stolen from Bihar, India.
It was in March this year at a fair that the statue was identified. Lynda Albertson of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA) and Vijay Kumar from the India Pride Project, informed the police about the statue.
The statue was handed over to the Indian High Commissioner to UK, Y K Sinha, by the Scotland Yard, as part of a ceremony to mark Independence Day at India House in London today.
“I am delighted to return this piece of history. This is an excellent example of the results that can come with close cooperation between law enforcement, trade and scholars,” said Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Sheila Stewart, who was accompanied by officials from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the handover ceremony.
She also added that though the statue was stolen over 50 years ago, it is to the credit of the informants and their keen sense of art that it could be found after so many years. Sinha described the return of the “priceless Buddha” as a “wonderful gesture” and said that it is a personal honour and achievement for him as he hails from Bihar.