The antiques found at a shop near Qila Mubarak in Bathinda around two months ago may just be the tip of the iceberg. A large number of these antiquities were not deposited with the authorities and may be in the possession of the shop owner, a report of the Punjab archaeology department has found.
The department has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to initiate action against the shop owner.
In June, officials from the cultural affairs, archaeology and museums department visited Bathinda for fact-finding on the antiques. They found that on a tip-off from a minstrel, one Raj Kumar undertook excavation at his shop at Sirki Bazaar and claimed to have found a brick made of copper, silver and zinc.
According to the report of the archaeology department, the brick is probably from the 12th century. Besides, 200-year-old idols of Hindu deities Vishnu and Luxmi, and a pair of bracelets and pendants were found. All these articles were placed in a copper container. Raj Kumar claimed that he handed over all the items to police.
After investigation, Punjab’s archaeology department has written to the ASI saying the shop owner did not deposit all antique items with the government; what he has deposited is part of the antiques found. Even the cover of the container in which these articles were placed is missing, the department claims.
Taking a serious note of this and the immense historical value of the antiques, the Punjab archaeology department has written to the ASI director general saying action under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act be initiated against Raj Kumar.
The Act empowers the government to search and seize all antiquities. Besides, the state can take action under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.