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'Save Gandhi items!'.


A LEADING Indian organisation is urging its nationals to contribute to a worldwide appeal to protect independence leader Mahatma Gandhi's possessions from being auctioned in the US next month.

A fund has been set up by Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi to raise $300,000 (BD113,400) for the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, in Mumbai, to purchase the items.

It has so far collected 125,000 rupees ($2,500) in donations, including an anonymous pledge of around 100,000 rupees.

Gandhi's personal items consist of a pair of eyeglasses, worn leather sandals, a pocket watch and a simple brass bowl and plate.

They will go on sale on March 5 by Antiquorum Auctioneers, in New York.

Antiquorum had told Tushar that the items would likely sell way above their collective estimate of $20,000 (BD7,539) to $30,000 (BD11,308).

Tushar is planning to collect $300,000 to have a serious chance to buy the items.

The Co-ordination Committee of Indian Associations (CCIA) in Bahrain is spearheading the campaign here to help rescue the items from being auctioned.

"I know not all Indians would be able to contribute to this mission," said a committee member.

"But we need the high society people to come forward and help us support Mr Gandhi.

"I request all Indians to contribute, as every fils collected can really make a difference."

The sandals were given to a British army officer in 1931 prior to the round table talks in London that were held to discuss Indian self-rule.

Gandhi's Zenith pocket watch was given to his grand niece, Abha Gandhi, his assistant of six years, in whose arms he died after being shot in 1948.

A bowl and plate, also given by Gandhi to Abha, are also for sale.

The items are all currently owned by a private American collector.

The bid is expected to go beyond Rs1.5 crore (BD120,000).

Gandhi, born in 1869, was an inspirational leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He was one of the first political leaders to practise a policy of passive resistance, which has inspired generations of civil rights protesters since.

The leader was assassinated aged 78 by a Hindu radical.

The account for donations is under the name Tushar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi Account Fund, 04200100021002, Bank of Baroda, Vile Parle (West), Mumbai.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Feb 28, 2009
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