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Govt vows to bring Gandhi’s belongings home

india Updated: Mar 05, 2009 02:09 IST
Last-minute negotiations to stop auction of Gandhi's items

The government has said it will do everything required to bring back the personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi to India.

Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York have placed Gandhi’s glasses, sandals, a pocket watch, a bowl and plate on auction, for a starting bid of $20,000 to $30,000. The auction is on Thursday.

India is holding last-minute talks with the auctioneer to take the items off the auction. “We have asked our embassy in Washington and Consulate General of India in New York to do everything required through the bidding process or otherwise to acquire the assets,” said Minister of State for External Affairs (MEA) Anand Sharma.

India contacted California-based collector James Otis. “He has agreed to meet the Consul General of India in New York,” the MEA said. Otis, however, told IANS he had rejected a “generous but small” offer from India.

The government’s options, sources said, were to buy the items from Otis, request the auction house to take them off auction or bid for them.

Reuters quoted Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal telling CNN-IBN that, “Any Indian should buy it and send it back home. I think we will see how the auction goes.”

“We have offered them that even if they did not want to donate the items, we could purchase them on behalf of the Government of India,” said Prabhu Dayal, India’s Consul General in New York to CNN IBN.

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