THE Indian government has requested a museum in Oxford to return a statue that was 'stolen' from a temple in the 1960s.

The 15th-century bronze statue of Saint Tirumankai Alvar currently sits in the Ashmolean Museum, but there are questions as to where it has come from.

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The Guardian reported that the Indian high commission in London said it had received a report from police in Tamil Nadu that the original idol had been stolen from the temple of Sri Soundarrajaperumal, and replaced with a fake and that the stolen idol is the one at the Ashmolean.

It comes after the Ashmolean informed the high commission last December of new research that questioned the provenance of the sculpture.

The Indian high commission in London has now requested for restitution of the idol.

Saint Tirumankai Alvar was bought by the museum from Sotheby’s auction house in London in 1967.