NEW DELHI: In a momentous development, the United Kingdom has agreed to return the legendary ‘wagh nakh,’ a dagger reminiscent of tiger claws that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj wielded to assassinate Afzal Khan, the general of the Bijapur sultanate, in 1659.
This iconic historical artefact has been on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. State Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is scheduled to visit London later this month to formalize the return through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Anticipation is building, and if all goes according to plan, the revered ‘wagh nakh’ may find its way back home this year. Minister Mungantiwar announced, “We have received confirmation from UK authorities that they are willing to return Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s ‘wagh nakh.’ We are considering bringing it back to coincide with the anniversary of Shivaji’s slaying of Afzal Khan, based on the Hindu calendar. We are also exploring alternative dates and making arrangements for the transportation of the ‘wagh nakh.'”
This historic artefact holds immense significance, symbolizing a pivotal moment in Maharashtra’s history. Afzal Khan’s demise is commemorated on November 10, according to the Gregorian calendar, but the government is working to determine a date in accordance with the Hindu tithi calendar.
Mungantiwar further emphasized the importance of this endeavour, stating, “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s ‘wagh nakh’ is a priceless historical treasure, and the emotions of the people of the state are deeply connected to it. The transfer must be carried out with the utmost personal responsibility and care.”
To facilitate this significant return, a team comprising Mungantiwar, Dr Vikas Kharge (Principal Secretary, Culture), and Dr. Tejas Garge (Director of the State’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museums) will visit the Victoria and Albert Museum and other museums in London. The government resolution from the Cultural Affairs Department outlines an estimated expenditure of approximately Rs 50 lakh for this six-day visit, scheduled from September 29 to October 4.
The ‘wagh nakh’ itself is a remarkable piece of history, crafted from steel and featuring four claws mounted on a bar with two rings for the first and fourth fingers. Its return to Maharashtra promises to be a momentous occasion, rekindling the connection between the people and their rich heritage.