London, May 21: A British auction house has triggered a storm of controversy over plans to sell personal items that used to belong to Mahatma Gandhi.
The items, including Gandhi's shawl, sandals and rice bowl, will be offered for sale on Tuesday by Mullock's Auctioneers in Ludlow, 250 kilometres north west of London.
Gandhi wove the shawl himself. Auctioneer Richard Westwood-Brookes said the sale of such personal items offered people an opportunity to get closer to the man himself.
"It provides that personal link to him," he said. "It gives future generations a taste of what Gandhi was actually like, and you'll be able to touch and feel the things that he owned."
The seller of most of the items is a relative of a Mumbai family in whose home Gandhi recuperated from tuberculosis in the 1920s.
Some Indian critics say the items belong to the Indian nation and shouldn't be sold off to the highest bidder.
In January a collection of other items of memorabilia, including the famous wooden 'charkha' or spinning wheel Gandhi used, were returned to India after they were purchased at auction by an Indian businessman in London in 2012.
Among the items were blades of grass and soil pigmented with Gandhi's blood and retrieved from Birla House in New Delhi, where he was assassinated.
But Westwood-Brookes, of Mullock's Auctioneers, said this week's auction was the best way to make sure the items in the sale were preserved for posterity.
"It's important? at this stage that it goes to the right people who are going to look after it," he said.