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Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, who bought a set of belongings of Indian
Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, who bought a set of belongings of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi at a New York auction for $1.8 mln, was acting on behalf of the Indian government, national media reported.

"The Indian Government procured the five personal articles of Mahatma Gandhi at a New York auction through the services of industrialist Vijay Mallya as it could not bid directly because of a stay order of the Delhi High Court," the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

Gandhi's personal items, including his trademark spectacles, sandals, pocket watch and a bowl and plate, with a reserve price of $20,000-30,000, went under the hammer on Thursday. The sale had sparked protests from the Indian government, which said the items were part of the country's heritage, and that their sale was an insult to Gandhi's memory.

India had tried to stop the auction going ahead, challenging the ownership rights of U.S. collector James Otis. On Tuesday, New Delhi's Supreme Court issued an injunction banning the sale, citing Gandhi's last wish that all his belongings be passed to the Navajivan Trust, a publishing house he founded in 1929.

In his letter to the Indian Consulate General in New York, James Otis formally offered to withdraw the items from sale if India agrees to either spend more on healthcare for the poor or support educational programs promoting non-violent resistance. India, however, rejected the offer.

The purchase could still be contested, as the items were sold despite the fact that Otis agreed to remove them from sale several hours before the auction.

Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi said he and his friend Dilip Doshi also took part in the auction to ensure the items would return to India.

"When we realized that there may be an Indian bidding against him, he [Doshi] stopped his bid at $1.7 million," Gandhi told NDTV.


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