Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 5 September 2014 returned two stolen antique statues of Hindu deities to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One of the idols is a Nataraja, the dancing Shiva that belongs to the Chola dynasty of 11th-12th century. The other sculpture is of Ardhanariswara which represents Shiva in half-female form. It belonged to the 10th century.
Both the statues were allegedly stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu before being bought to India by art galleries in Australia.
The Nataraja statue was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in February 2008 at a price of 5.1 million US Dollars from art and antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor, owner of the "Art of the Past" gallery in New York.
While, the Ardhanariswara statue was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2004 at a price of approximately 300000 Australian dollar.
In 2012, Subhash Kapoor was arrested in Germany and subsequently brought to India for trial. He was accused of committing burglary and smuggling antique idols of Hindu deities belonging to Chola dynasty.
This case is currently at the prosecution stage in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, Australian authorities also assisted India in conducting investigations in Australia.
In March 2014, the ministry of external affairs made a formal proposal to the Australian department of attorney general for the return of the two idols.
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When: 5 September 2014