Gandhi’s last letter may return to India
In this rare collection of letters for the UK auction, the Father of the Nation makes a forceful plea to Hindus for adopting a tolerant attitude to Muslims, reports HS Bartwal.india Updated: Jun 28, 2007 04:41 IST
Efforts are on in the government to acquire a rare letter written by Mahatma Gandhi shortly before he was assassinated, which is to be put up for auction by Christie’s auctioneers in London next week.
Part of a private collection of handwritten letters and manuscripts of eminent personalities that are to be auctioned, this letter penned by Gandhi for his newspaper ‘Harijan’ in 1948 made a forceful plea to Hindus for adopting a tolerant attitude towards the Muslim community in post-partition India.
The Culture Ministry has been directed to make an attempt to acquire the letter after Gandhians Basant Kumar Birla and Satya Paul wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to intervene in the matter to bring back the precious document to India.
However, in view of the complications involved in the matter, the Culture Ministry has sought the help of the External Affairs Ministry for carrying out negotiations with Christie’s through the Indian High Commission in UK.With a little time left before the letter is put up under the auctioneer’s hammer on July 3, chances of a negotiated settlement with Christie’s appeared dim, sources said.
The other alternative available is to acquire the letter through bidding at the auction. Though the auction price of the document is estimated at around 12,000 pounds,it may go much higher if there are bidders willing to pay more for it, according to ministry sources. It would be difficult for the ministry to enter direct bidding as it does not have sanctioned funds for such purposes, they said.
In these circumstances, the government may resort to the course followed in an earlier such case when as many as 18 of Gandhi’s letters being auctioned were acquired with the help of NRIs who bought them for India, it was stated.