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The unfinished Avaloketsvara sculpture which was stolen from Uren at Lakhisarai.

How ancient heritages are safe in our hands ? ASI blamed for showing negligence overall


May 29th, 2018

Our Bureau/

Preservation and providing safety and security to the sculptures and antiques found in abandon in Anga Pradesh snowballed in a major controversy. Lakhisarai is perhaps the classic example of it where recently excavated antiques laying in the mercy of smugglers and others.

Archaeological survey of India (ASI), Patna circle and Lakhisarai district administration is virtually on loggerheads over the issue of how to protect the treasure troves of ancient history.

ASI, Patna circle has asked district magistrate Lakhisarai to give reason of putting sculptures and antiques  which were dag out from the excavation site of Uren in the district at Kajra PS. It has also asked in which capacity the police asked ASI men to produce the list of the sculptures and antiques recently found in Uren excavation which has been conducted by ASI, Patna circle’s excavation branch – III.

The rare Bhumisparsh idol of Buddha also stolen from Olpura in Bhagalpur recently.

“We asked the district magistrate to clarify whether taking of antiques and sculptures from the excavation site at Uren and subsequently dumping it to a police station was done under the instruction of district administration, Lakhisarai?” said D N Sinha, superintendent archaeologist, ASI, Patna circle . Sinha said that district magistrate, Lakhisarai also asked to celerity the role of police there which demanded the list of such antiques and sculptures from the ASI’s team engaged excavation at Uren.

But Sinha while asked to clarifying about the general allegation against ASI for not taking any interest in protecting the ancient items, he said that it’s possible for the ASI to look after all such antiques found in abundant in the state. “Local administration should take initiative to provide safety and security to it first. Local support from people is also very essential,” he said.

“Till filling of the reports there are so many other things for the items recovered during excavation from the site. So it is not possible to complete all such works at the site and we have to carry the items. After completing the reporting and other formalities, the items automatically shifted to nearby museum or other place which at least could give protection and safety to the items,” he added. He said the items recovered from Lakhisarai could be put in the proposed museum which is scheduled to construct soon.

District magistrate, Lakhisarai Sobehendra Choudhary was not available for his comment but sources in his office said that before the visit of Nitish Kumar at Lali Pahari local administration collected such items not from the site of excavation at Uren rather such items were collected from other places which were scattered here and there. “A museum has been proposed at Lakhisarai but until and unless it is completed we are shifting such items lying scatted and isolated to a building here mainly for the point of protection,” the source said.

Asutosh Kumar, SHO, Kajra PS in Lakhisarai said that on the direction of SDO and CO, such items were collected earlier which were lying abundant but before the visit of Nitish Kumar at Lali Paharai on April 30 last all the items were shifted from the PS.  Sources from Lakhisarai administration at said that after the instruction of chief minister on November 25. 2017 special measures were taken for collecting such items which were either lying isolated or scattered.

Broken antiques dated back Pala periods are recovered recently at a village in Bhagalpur.

However history lovers in the region alleged ASI for its lackadaisical attitude for not taking interests for such rare items which found abundant in the areas. “Despite the instruction of chief minister, Nitish Kumar on November 25, 2017 noting was done in protecting the rare items. As a result on December 25, 2017 an unfinished Avaloketsvara sculpture from Uren was stolen. Neither ASI nor state agencies are taking any interest in protecting them,” alleged Narendra Kumar, a social activist at Lakhisarai. He said last year Munger police unreached a big racket of smugglers of antiques  with international connection and the gang had well-established networking at Uren in the district.

Sajjan Singh, another resident at Uren said that some local people managed to register a FIR with Kajra PS (86/17)  about the theft but he alleged that ASI which conducting the excavation was remained mute spectator at that time. “When police started collecting sculptures and antiques from the area and storing in the PS, ASI, Patna circle objected and started confronting with district administration, “ alleged Singh.

Lakhisarai is not the exception, at Bhagalpur an old Vhumisparsh black stone idol of Gautam Buddha was stolen last year from a village temple at Olpura under Sabour block in Bhagalpur. “The idol dated back in Pala period had no protection. Similarly another important idol of Gautam Buddha dated back to Gupta periods lying under open sky at Tarar village under Sonhula PS in Bhagalpur. Most interestingly, state archaeology department already conducted survey in the areas in Bhagalpur and mentioned the two idols in its report but nothing has done for protection,” alleged Prof Raman Sinha, a senior teacher in the faculty of history at TMB University and Shivshanker Singh Parijat, a local historian at Bhagalpur.

An excavated part at Lali Pahari in Lakhisarai.

“Recently on May 17 many idols and sculptures were recovered below the earth where digging was on at Amdard village under Baijalpur Panchyat of Sabour block in Bhagalpur. Now the same question arises, who will take care of the items,” pointed out Parijat. Parijat who has conducting exclusive research on Dipankar Srighyan Atisa, a noted scholar at Vikramshila Buddha Mahavihara said  that  the entire areas have historical and archaeological significances. He said that  earlier state archaeological department already conducted survey in the areas but yet not published its report nor persuaded the state government for protecting the areas.

Atul Verma, director, directorate of state archaeology, Bihar also said that protection should be given to such rare items should immediately. “Whenever such items found, the first thing is to arrange proper safety and security of it. It should be shifted to nearby museum or other proper place by local administration,” he said. Verma when asked about the such items lying isolated when his department already conducted survey, what is the reason for not publishing the report or what is the delay for initiating in protecting such places having historical and archaeological significances. Verma replied that the preparation of the report is on pipe line and soon a proposal for acquiring such areas in Bhagalpur and Banka would be sent to the state government.

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