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Gandhi auction in doubt

THE Indian government is talking to a New York auction house about its planned sale of Mahatma Gandhi's eyeglasses and other personal items, an official said yesterday, amid pressure at home to prevent the auction and bring the belongings back to India.

Antiquorum Auctioneers says Gandhi's trademark round eyeglasses, a pair of worn sandals, an inexpensive pocket watch and a simple brass bowl and plate are scheduled to be sold as a single lot today, with an estimated low bid ranging from US$20,000 to US$30,000.

A New Delhi court issued an injunction on Tuesday against the auction or sale of Gandhi's belongings. The High Court order came on a petition filed by Navjivan, a public trust started by Gandhi in 1929, staking its claim over all his personal items. Last week, the great-grandson of Gandhi said that he had launched a fund-raising campaign to buy the collection.

The auction house said that Gandhi is believed to have given the eyeglasses and their leather case to an army colonel who had asked him for inspiration, telling him they were the "eyes" that had given him the vision to free India.

The timepiece is a silver pocket watch that Gandhi gave to his grandniece, Abha Gandhi.


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