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Multi-Decade Smuggling Operation Exposed
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Multi-Decade Smuggling Operation Exposed

In 2007, Indian authorities detained a consignment en route to the United States. The authorities stopped the consignment and found millions of dollars worth of Chola period idols. The authorities quickly determined that a first consignment had already been shipped to the United States. They informed United States officials, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) successfully confiscated the consignment.

As The Hindu reports, both consignments were on their way to Subhash Chandra Kapoor, who is allegedly the kingpin of one of India’s most successful smuggling rings. For Kapoor, plundering cultural institutions is a family affair. His family has been plundering for decades.

While being questioned by ICE, Kapoor acknowledged that he knew the shipment could not be legally imported due to laws governing cultural property from India, and informed ICE officials that he would abandon the items. Although Kapoor was able to flee the United States before ICE could arrest him, he eventually turned up in a Chennai prison.

It is unclear when the idols  seized by United States authorities will be returned to India. In many cases, the idols have already been placed them in major museums across the United States. The museums will have to return the idols to India upon a formal establishment of their origin. India has already filed four claims for the reparation of idols that have been confirmed to have originate in India.

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  • When the representatives of the thirteen colonies/states started drafting the United States Constitution, to form the United States government we now live under, the “Founding Fathers” of this nation had to carefully consider the role of Indian tribes in the political arrangement of the new nation. As James Madison pointed out, much of the trouble that England and the thirteen colonies had suffered with Indian tribes from the 1640’s forward arose when individual colonists or colonial governments tried to greedily take Indian lands. In those instances, the colonies and individual colonists would negotiate with tribes without the permission or the involvement of the English King or the American national leadership. The drafters of the U.S. Constitution tried to solve this problem by taking Indian affairs out of the hands of the colonies/states and individuals and placing the sole power to deal and negotiate with tribes into the hands of the U.S. Congress. Thus, Indian tribes and their people, and the United States relationship with tribes are addressed in the U.S. Constitution.

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