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India Tries to Avoid Auction of Gandhi's Belongings


India is making last-minute efforts to try to stop the New York auction of personal items belonging to independence leader Mahatma Gandhi on Thursday.

The foreign ministry says it has ordered its diplomats in New York to do whatever they can to obtain the items, possibly even bidding on them at the auction.

Officials from the consulate have been talking to the New York auction house that plans to sell the collection, and also with the California man, James Otis, who owns some of the objects.

The collection includes Gandhi's trademark wire-rimmed eyeglasses, a pocket watch, worn leather sandals and a brass bowl and plate. Antiquorum Auctioneers says it intends to put them on the auction block as a single item.

The auction house says it will start bidding at between $20,000 and $30,000, but expects the final price to be much higher.

India's government has been under intense domestic pressure to get the objects returned to India. Gandhi's relatives and many other Indians object to the sale, and consider Gandhi's belongings part of their national heritage.

An Indian court Tuesday issued an injunction against the sale, but the ruling is not believed to be binding in the United States.

Some Indians living in the United States have said they may try to buy the objects to ensure they are returned home.

The auction house says Gandhi gave the watch to his grand-niece, Abha Gandhi. The revered civil rights activist and Indian independence leader died in her arms after a Hindu nationalist shot him in 1948.

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