NEW YORK (TIP): India and the US firm ties again after Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) returned three stolen sculptures at the Indian Consulate in New York City on Tuesday, January 14, during a repatriation ceremony. The event marks the first attempt made by both countries at solving the dispute after senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s arrest and eventual eviction from the US. The three stolen sculptures, one which was listed in INTERPOL’s top ten most wanted stolen works of art, are valued at more than $1.5 million. Two of the three sculptures were reported stolen by the Archaeological Survey of India from Gadgach Temple in Rajasthan. Two sandstone sculptures of Vishnu and Lakshmi and Vishnu and Parvati date back to the 11th or 12th century. The third artifact from the same era is a black sandstone sculpture depicting Bodhisattva, a popular subject in Buddhist art.

Indian Consul General Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, Director of Interpol (Washington) Shawn A. Bray and Executive Associate Director, HSI James Dinkins, preceded the official transfer of the items. The three valuable sculptures were on display at the Consulate. “The excellent international cooperation between the United States and India led to the recovery and return of these priceless antiquities. These items represent history and culture of India and we are happy to have recovered them and return them to be enjoyed by the people of India,” said Dinkins. Shawn Bray also commended on the excellent working relation of both countries. “This signifies what is possible when two countries come together despite cultural, linguistic and legal barriers,” he added.

Although the sculptures were recovered by 2011, the delay in returning and assigning the transfer dates was due to certain ‘legal process that can take long’. On being asked if this was a feeble attempt at making amends after the diplomat’s arrest, the panel unanimously pointed it as a mere coincidence. “I have had this event marked on my calendar for a while now and having it on this day is purely coincidental,” said Dinkins. “The relation between India and the US is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. Our relation spans to culture, education, finance, nuclear and other divisions. We all have issues that can be sorted if we keep the spirit of friendship in mind,” added Mr. Mulay. HSI confirms that so far no arrests have been made over the case of stolen sculptures and the case if not over unless all the culprits are bought to justice.

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