Indian American group hopes to win back Gandhi belongings

March 4th, 2009 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, March 4 (IANS) Even as Indian officials are negotiating with a California-based collector to stop the sale of possessions once owned by Mahatma Gandhi, a group of NRI hoteliers plans to bid for the items and gift the lot to India.
The group led by hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal says they hope to win the five items - including the iconic steel-rimmed glasses and sandals that the Mahatma wore - at Thursday’s auction here and gift the lot to the Indian government.

“We are about eight to 10 friends and they all asked me to go to the auction and bid for Mahatma Gandhi’s artefacts,” Chatwal told CNN-IBN in an interview.

Asked if they would be giving them back to India, Chatwal said: “Absolutely. The aim is that no one else should buy it, only an Indian should buy it. The purpose is to buy it and send it back home.”

Chatwal said he “would like to go maybe up to a quarter of a million dollars” in their bid. “It’s not big money, especially if you want to buy it and send it back to our country, India.”

Meanwhile, Indian officials are said to be in talks with both the California collector James Otis as also the New York auction house, Antiquorum Auctioneers, to stop the auction.

But unless a last minute agreement is reached, they said the auction of Gandhi’s Zenith pocket watch, steel-rimmed spectacles, a pair of sandals and an eating bowl and plate would go ahead as scheduled in New York. The collection has a reserve price of between $20,000 and $30,000.

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