|Shri Rajesh Pande (Right) with the Buddha Statue.
The Buddha statue (9th-10th CE) that was stolen from Lohajarā village (Wazirganj block in Gaya district) in 2014 was brought back to its findspot finally on 30th January 2017. The statue was recovered from a house in Sithaurā village in Nalanda district in August 2016 by the Nalanda police.
People of Lohajarā had very little hope of finding the stolen Buddha statue. Their apprehension was not without reason -- thousands of ancient statues went missing from the villages of Bihar in the past few decades, of which very few were recovered. This particular statue from Lohajarā, fortunately, was documented in 2011 by me. When the statue was stolen, without wasting any time, I registered the theft in the Art Loss Register, London. The registration of the theft played a key role in its recovery. The complete story of the statue's recovery can be found on my blog (Recovery of stolen 'Lohajarā Buddha' Sculpture).
After recovery, the statue was kept in the Rajgir police station. Villagers of Lohajarā produced the all the evidence required to claim that the statue belonged to their village. However, since the statue was stolen from in Gaya district and recovered from the Nalanda district, to get possession of the statue, the villagers of Lohajarā needed permission from the District Court of Nalanda. Hence, restoring the statue was a complex procedure taking up to several months because it involved the authorities of both Gaya and Nalanda districts.
Shri Rajesh Pande, a heritage volunteer from Lohajarā took the initiative and pursued the matter with the concerned officials in both districts. On 30th January, after submission of all the requisite permissions, the villagers of Lohajarā finally received the lost statue and brought it back to their village. The villagers realize that safeguarding the Buddha statue is very important. They now plan to build a temple where the ancient statue can be housed. They hope to find some Buddhist donors who would contribute in the making of the temple.
|From Telegraph, Patna edition, 1st February, 2017.
|Dainik Bhaskar, 1st February, 2017.
|Dainik Bhaskar, 31st January, 2017