01:06 GMT +322 July 2019
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    Attorney General Lorreta Lynch, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands during a ceremony marking the repatriation of over 200 artifacts to the Indian government, at Blair House in Washington, Monday, June 6, 2016.

    US Returns 200 Artifacts Worth $100 Million to India

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    On Monday, more than 200 stolen cultural artifacts were returned to India in a ceremony held at the Blair House during an official visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US.

    The items returned to India included religious statues, bronzes and terra-cotta pieces, some dating back 2,000 years, plundered from some of India's most treasured religious sites.

    Speaking in Hindi at the Repatriation Cultural Property to India, Modi said that in the last two years various countries have endeavored to return India's stolen cultural heritage.

    "I am grateful to the United States and President Obama for returning these treasures to India. For the people of India, it is a part of our culture and heritage that joins us to our past, that joins us to our values," the Prime Minister said in his brief remarks.

    ​The artifacts included a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar, a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period, around 850 AD to 1250 AD, which was stolen from the Sivan Temple in Chennai and is valued at $1.5 million. The collection of repatriated items also had a 1,000-year-old bronze sculpture of the Hindu god Ganesha.

    The majority of the pieces were seized during the US Operation Hidden Idol that began in 2007 after federal investigators received a tip about a suspicious shipment of "marble garden table sets." The operation resulted in the arrest of six people and the recovery of antiquities worth more than $100 million, an official statement said.

    "It is my hope and the hope of the American people that this repatriation will serve as a sign of our great respect for India's culture, our deep admiration for its people, and our sincere appreciation for the ties between our nations," said US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

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    stolen artifacts, artifacts, India, United States
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