A prominent businessman from Mumbai on Friday revealed that he has acquired 29 items of Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia at a recent auction in the United Kingdom.
"I am delighted to acquire the items, which are of national interest. I would have been happier had the government acquired them," said Kamal Morarka, former Union minister and publisher.
Morarka plans to bring the memorabilia, which he acquired through a leading auction house, to India soon.
"I am not aware if the Customs Duty will be charged on these items," he said.
Asked how much he paid to acquire these items, Morarka said the amount exceeded a lakh pounds. "It would not have been a big expenditure on part of the government to spend Rs 80 to 90 lakh to acquire these items at the auction," he said.
The memorabilia includes blades of grass and soil pigmented with the blood of Mahatma Gandhi and retrieved from Birla House in Delhi, where he was assassinated in 1948.
The purchase was done through the Kamal Morarka Foundation for the Arts. The sale was done by Mullock's, a Shropshire-based auctioneer.
The items include one of Gandhi's early pairs of iconic spectacles, the famous wooden 'charkha' (spinning wheel) he used, a prayer book signed by Gandhi and also several letters and other documents pertaining to Gandhi's life.
On where he intended to display the items, Morarka said, "I will be happy if the government displays them in a national museum in Delhi. The purchase is not a commercial decision but an emotional one".
"We don't intend to re-sell such objects but to bring them back to India, so as to share with our people these important heritage artifacts that have eluded us for long by being kept in private hands outside of India," Morarka said.