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Ceremony for return of Idol of Dasha Avatar Varaha

New York
April 17, 2006 

In a ceremony held today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security formally handed over a recovered 250 pounds 9th Century Sandstone Idol of Dasha Avatar Varaha to the Consul General of India in New York, Smt Neelam Deo. The idol 50 inches tall and 28 inches wide was stolen from a temple in Mandsour, Madhya Pradesh in March 2000. 

Investigations were launched in the US in 2003 after receiving information through Interpol from the police in India. The US Authorities seized the idol in New York city from a gallery owner in August 2005. It depicts the killing of Hirayna demon and liberation of Prithvi. The other incarnations of Vishnu are carved around the central figure of Varaha. The appraised value is estimated at Rs. 1 crore (approx. US$ 30,000/-). 

The ceremony was covered by TV Asia, NDTV, PTI, Indian Express and the Indian ethnic media. Responding to questions from the media, Special Agent, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Martin D. Ficke told that the investigations to retrieve the other Vishnu idol stolen from the Indian temple were ongoing. The difficulties in retrieving undocumented artifacts such as these idols were underlined. CG Mrs. Neelam Deo expressed appreciation for the cooperation and efforts of the US Department of Homeland Security and gratitude that the Varaha idol could soon be transported back to India.