India attempts to pull Gandhi items from NY auction

NEW DELHI, March 4 (RIA Novosti) - India is making every effort to have personal items belonging to Mahatma Gandhi removed from a New York auction, India's state minister for external affairs said on television on Wednesday.

The attempt to sell Gandhi's personal items has caused an uproar in India as he is considered the leader of the non-violent independence movement in India.

"We have asked our embassy in Washington and Consulate General of India in New York to do everything that is required through the bidding process or otherwise to acquire the Father of the Nation's personal assets for the country," Anand Sharma was cited on NDTV as saying.

The items up for auction, which could fetch between $20,000 and $30,000, are Gandhi's trademark spectacles, his sandals, a pocket watch, a bowl and plate and a telegram with Gandhi's personal handwritten notes, as well as a blood analysis report, which are considered an "indivisible part of India's heritage."

India's consular office is in talks with Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York to try and resolve the situation, India's Foreign Ministry said.

On Tuesday, Delhi's Supreme Court ordered the sale of Gandhi's personal items halted, citing Gandhi's last wishes that all his belongings be passed to the Navajivan Trust a publishing house he founded in 1929.

According to his will, registered in November 1929, Gandhi stated: "I do not believe that I have any property. Nevertheless, anything which by social convention or in law is considered mine: anything movable or immovable; books, articles etc., that I have written and may write hereafter, whether printed or not printed and all their copyright; I endow as my heirs the Navajivan Institution."

A legal representative for the trust, Mohan Parasaran said "any article belonging to Gandhi is of great heritage value and is considered legitimately owned by India."

Indian officials have also contacted U.S. film maker James Otis, who put the items up for auction.

Mahatma Gandhi was born in October 1869 and is considered the political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic on January 30, 1948.

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