Germany on Monday returned to India a 10th century Durga idol which had gone missing from a temple in Kashmir over two decades back and was later found in that country.
The idol was handed over by visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their talks in New Delhi, three years after it was spotted in a museum in Stuttgart.
Modi thanked Merkel and the people of Germany for returning the idol, saying “The statue is from Jammu and Kashmir & is a symbol of victory of good over evil.”
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The idol in Mahishasuramardini avatar was stolen from a temple at Pulwama in Kashmir in the 1990s, official sources said. An FIR was registered in connection with the theft.
In 2012, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) received a tip-off that the idol was spotted at the Linden Museum, Stuttgart.
Thereafter, the government started the process of getting it back. Two ASI officials visited Stuttgart for the purpose last year.
Armed with the FIR, which is a crucial evidence that the idol belonged to India, the government took up the issue with the concerned authorities in Germany.
The role of notorious Indian art dealer Subhash Kapoor is suspected in smuggling the idol out of the country. Kapoor was arrested in Germany in 2011.
Sources said the idol could have been procured from his (Kapoor’s) gallery ‘Art of the Past’.