HC Gives JK Govt Demarche On Missing Treasures

SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered the state government to furnish details about steps it has taken to reclaim ancient and historic artefacts given to various universities and museums.

The order with regard to 209 specimens, including paintings, coins, muskets and manuscripts was issued on December 11 over a 2008 petition by the Valley Citizens’ Council alleging that the objects of great historical and heritage value had either been gifted away to institutions or stolen, and that the government had made no attempt to recover them.

Asking the state government to answer by February 12, a division bench of Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar also pointed out panel findings that several artefacts, including a Quranic manuscript bearing the seal of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had been stolen on November 11, 2003, disappearing without trace.   

A three-member committee set up by the High Court in July had reported that the state museum had handed over a large number of ancient artefacts to the Centre For Central Asian Studies at the Kashmir University, the Moti Lal Nehru Chidren’s Museum in Lucknow and the Shimla Museum.

According to the report, the treasure had been given temporarily, but the government had taken no steps for its return.

It has also said that a large number of artefacts seized by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in 1964 too was yet to be returned.

The report also says that the gallery housing manuscripts, paintings and textiles was badly damaged and in need of urgent repair. 

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