Gandhi auction draws outrage in India | india | Hindustan Times
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Gandhi auction draws outrage in India

An auction of several of Mahatma Gandhi's personal possessions, including his trademark round glasses, has triggered a campaign for the items to be returned to India. Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, describing it as a "grave insult" for the independence leader's belongings to be sold off next month in New York, said he was trying to raise money to bring them home.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2009 00:30 IST

An auction of several of Mahatma Gandhi's personal possessions, including his trademark round glasses, has triggered a campaign for the items to be returned to India.

Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, describing it as a "grave insult" for the independence leader's belongings to be sold off next month in New York, said he was trying to raise money to bring them home.

Gandhi's sandals, pocket watch and some dishes are among the items being offered.

Parliamentarian Mohan Singh has also weighed in, calling on the government to "buy these relics and bring them back here so that they can be put in a museum".

Ramachandra Rahi, secretary general of the Gandhi Memorial Foundation in New Delhi, said Gandhi's belongings "should be available to future generations to see and draw inspiration from".

The items are owned by a German collector who obtained them from Gandhi's grandniece, Ghita.

Tushar, who heads the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation in Mumbai, said they had been given to the current owner for display in museums and that Ghita was "morally not right" to provide a letter of authenticity for the sale.

"She should remember that her parents would never, ever have thought of making money out of selling these things. They worshipped these items," he said.

Tushar said he asked the auction house, Antiquorum Auctioneers, to postpone the March 5 sale until he had raised enough money to bid for the items, but it had refused.

He has since been accepting donations, but is running out of time despite some of his compatriots -- many of them desperately poor -- chipping in.

The auction house has said the items are expected to sell for 20,000 to 30,000 dollars in total, leaving Tushar "hoping for a miracle to happen".

"I know that this is the last chance of ever getting them back," he said.

Gandhi, who eschewed material possessions as part of his minimalist world view, led India's nationalist movement against British rule and was assassinated in Delhi by a Hindu fanatic in 1948, a year after independe.