Kashmir is all set to reclaim its rare manuscripts and artifacts “loaned” to country’s various museums over the past 50 years.
The move comes after the Jammu and Kashmir high court pulled up the state government for failing to take proper measures to obtain custody of the state’s antiques “gifted, loaned or seized” by various museums and agencies since 1964.
The court chided the government after an expert committee formed by the court “to look into messy state of affairs” in Kashmir’s only museum, the Shri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar submitted a damning report earlier this week.
The court formed the committee after a public interest litigation was filed by a local resident early this year.
“Acting on the court orders we will be writing to all the museums in and outside the state to return our artifacts. Among them some have been gifted while others were loaned,” said a senior official of the department of archives, archaeology and museums of Kashmir. “From the museum’s point of view we had the culture of gifting rare articles to newly established museums,” he said.
The report has listed a number of “stolen” items, including a seated wooden Buddha, a standing Tara Bronze, a deity, a brass image of a seated Jain Tirthakar, a brass image of Buddha and another one of him standing Buddha.
“The reports shows that the items like coins of Kashmir, paintings, Sanskrit manuscripts, Persian manuscripts and old guns were gifted to the museum set up in Shimla,” the report said.
Battered by 23 years of violence between rebels and security forces, people in Kashmir have slowly started taking an interest in governance, social and cultural issues.