Decade on, stolen artifacts of SPS Museum still untraced

‘Invaluable paintings, manuscripts, textile gallery moth-eaten, damaged’

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Dec 17: A committee constituted by the High Court to look into messy state of the affairs in the Shri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum at Lal Mandi here has stated that Government has failed to trace many invaluable artifacts which were stolen over a decade ago.
 In its report to the High Court, the Committee has also revealed that in absence of preservation measures in the SPS Museum many priceless artifacts including paintings, manuscripts and textile gallery have been damaged. The Committee has also maintained that hundreds of invaluable paintings, coins and manuscripts of immense historical value loaned to other museums within and outside the State are yet to be retrieved. 
 Acting on the Committee’s report, the High Court has directed the State Government and Department of Archeology to take all steps necessary to restore the damaged manuscripts. It has also directed that some expert agency should be immediately consulted for undertaking the restoration work.
 The Committee was formed by Coram of High Court comprising Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Muzzaffar Hussain Attar earlier this year on a Public Interest litigation (PIL) filed by Imdad Saqi general secretary Valley Citizens Council (VCC).  
 The PIL has prayed for direction to respondents including Union of India and Archeological Survey of India and State Government to make all available scientific and other measures aimed at providing necessary protection and conservation of artifacts, monuments and excavation sites in Kashmir.
 The Court had directed constitution of a committee to conduct survey of the available items in the SPS museum and submit a report to the Court. The committee comprised of Deputy Director Achieves Jammu, Curator Dogra Art Museum Jammu and Museum Assistant SPS Museum Srinagar.
 The committee recently submitted its report to the Court. The committee has stated that many items including a manuscript of Holy Quran bearing the seal of Emperor Aurangzeb which was stolen on November 11, 2003 is still untraced. “An FIR was lodged and the same has been closed as untraced. The other stolen items depicted in the report include seated wooden Buddha, standing Tara Bronze, a diety, a brass image of Jain Tirthakar seated, one brass image of Buddha seated in earth touching mudra and one standing Buddha from Nagapatnam.,” the report reads.
 After perusal of the report Court observed: “The survey report highlights some peculiar features which do not leave good taste in mouth. It has come on record that 209 items have been given on loan to Central Asian Museum Kashmir University. Likewise, some items have been given on load to the institutes outside the state like Motilal Nehru Children Museum Lucknow and Shimla Museum. The reports shows that the items like coins of Kashmir, paintings, Sanskrit manuscript, Persian manuscript and old gun were gifted to the Museum which was set up at Shimla,” It states that a large number of items were seized by Anti-corruption department.” The date of seizure goes back to 01.8.1964. The committee has recommended that steps should be taken to take possession of the seized items.”
 In its report to the Court, the Department of Achieves, Archeology and Museums has admitted 22 coins of historical importance have been sent to Shimla Museum.
 “Another feature which is depicted by the survey is the paintings, manuscripts and textile gallery is moth-eaten and badly damaged. All these items need delicate handling for their immediate restoration. To treat all these items with nay worthwhile material experts have to be consulted,” the Court observed.
 The Court maintained that Additional Advocate General has assured that all possible steps for recovering the loaned items, for finding out the stolen items and restoring the damaged ones are being taken.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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