Verum was restless in her seat. Only five minutes were left for her school bell to ring but she could feel her crystal ball glowing in the bag. She was eager to find out which news her trusty crystal ball had brought her today.

Verum was out of her seat the second the school bell rang. Orak, Scorch, and Felix followed her to find her sitting in a tiny corner with her crystal ball. They sat beside her, forming a circle.

“It’s happy news,” Verum explained to her friends, “The United States (US) returned 248 stolen antiques to India. They were handed over to the Indian authorities at the Indian Consulate in New York City.

An antique is an object belonging to ancient times. Out of 248 objects, 13 were smuggled from temples in Tamil Nadu, India. It includes an important 10th-century bronze Nataraja idol that was stolen in 1971.”

“I am so glad they have been returned to India,” Orak said, “But how did they end up in the US?”

Verum answered, “The antiquities (relics such as statues, coins from ancient times) were smuggled (to illegally transport stolen goods) from different parts of the country in the US by Subash Kapoor. He was the owner of the Arts of the Past gallery in Manhattan. He used the gallery as a cover to smuggle the stolen antiquities into the country.

The US Homeland Security investigated the gallery. Till 2012, they raided 14 locations in New York City. They found 2,622 artifacts worth more than ₹850 crores. The artifacts were from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Thailand.”

“Woah, looks like it was a massive stolen art scheme,” Scorch said.

“During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in 2016,” Verum said, “the US authorities had promised to return 157 artifacts. But due to the continuous efforts of the US authorities and Indian art experts, they were able to return 91 more artifacts. It is the single largest return of stolen artifacts to India!”

“Stolen artifacts have finally returned home to India!” Felix did a happy dance.