India to do 'whatever it takes' to get Gandhi items | india | Hindustan Times
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India to do 'whatever it takes' to get Gandhi items

The latest comments from New Delhi came after New York-based Antiquorum Auctioneers said the controversial sale would go ahead later on Thursday as planned despite fierce Indian opposition. "I have the prime minister's instructions that we would not like to have these items be auctioned from one party to another," Indian Culture Minister Ambika Soni said.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2009 16:58 IST

India said on Thursday it will do "whatever it takes" to prevent Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings from being sold at auction in New York.

The latest comments from New Delhi came after New York-based Antiquorum Auctioneers said the controversial sale would go ahead later on Thursday as planned despite fierce Indian opposition.

"I have the prime minister's instructions that we would not like to have these items be auctioned from one party to another," Indian Culture Minister Ambika Soni told NDTV.

The memorabilia to be sold include Gandhi's iconic round glasses, sandals, pocket watch and a bowl and plate.

Soni said the glasses and other items "were tokens given to individuals in recognition of their Gandhian values." Their sale meant commercialisation of his belongings and a repudiation of what he stood for.

"We will offer whatever it takes to make sure these things come back to Gandhi's motherland."

Antiquorum insisted on Wednesday the sale would take place and put an estimate of $ 20,000 to 30,000 on the items, which will sell as a single lot.

The final price is expected to be considerably higher, partly thanks to the publicity generated by the row in India over the sale.

This week, New Delhi instructed its diplomats in the US to try to obtain Gandhi's personal effects before the auction that the freedom fighter's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, has described as a "grave insult."

Mahatma Gandhi, who eschewed material possessions, led India's freedom movement against British rule and was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic in 1948, a year after independence.