Indian outrage over auction of Gandhis belongings in New York

February 24th, 2009 - 2:23 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 24 (ANI): Indians are furious over a New York auction that is set to sell some of the personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of Indias freedom struggle.

The bidding for Gandhis distinctive, round, metal-rimmed spectacles; his leather sandals; a 1910 sterling Zenith pocket watch; and a brass bowl and plate is scheduled for March 5-6 in New York.

By auctioning his things, we are going totally against what Gandhiji stood for. It is as if we are trying to buy a piece of Gandhiji, The Washington Post quoted Varsha Das, director of the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, as saying.

He never believed in possessing things, except for a few things he wore. He was absolutely against materialism and commercialism. It is more important to disseminate his message, to learn something from his life, rather than just possess his objects, added Das, a member of a government committee that is examining the issue.

The items will be auctioned together by Antiquorum Auctioneers, with a starting price of 20,000-30,000 dollar.

The watch, the bowl and the plate were given by Gandhi to his grandniece Abha Gandhi while he was still alive. She, in turn, willed it to her daughter Gita Mehta, the paper quoted Michelle Halpern, the public relations and marketing manager for Antiquorum, as saying.

However, she declined to reveal any of the sellers names. Halpern said the spectacles were gifted to Colonel Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, who ruled princely state of Junagadh.

She said the auction house has letters of authenticity for all the items.

Indian Parliamentarians have also expressed bewilderment at how such precious objects of Indian heritage had landed in foreign auction houses.

In 2007, a similar controversy erupted when the London auction house Christies sold Gandhis last letters, written about two weeks before his assassination. The Indian government, under pressure from lawmakers, acquired the letters for an undisclosed sum. (ANI)

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