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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Rare artefacts, manuscripts rotting in archives department

Mehakdeep Grewal, Hindustan Times  Patiala, January 24, 2014
First Published: 20:54 IST(24/1/2014) | Last Updated: 20:55 IST(24/1/2014)

Rare artefacts, manuscripts and records of eight princely states continue to rot in the archives department which has not made any fresh recruitment during the past three decades for proper maintenance of this cultural treasure.

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The state government's tall claims of getting the royal city back on the tourism map have fallen flat in the wake of its apathy towards archival records and failure to preserve heritage.

According to available information,  the post of deputy director in the department has been lying vacant since 1996. The staff strength has come down from 42 to 19, as apart from filling a few posts on compassionate grounds, no fresh recruitment has been made during the past 30 years.

Department officials informed that they had sent several proposals to higher authorities regarding the need to fill the vacant posts but the government  has so far failed to act in this regard.

They revealed that during the shifting of the department in 2003 from its previous location at the 'Rajindra Kothi' right in the heart of the Baradari gardens, 30 per cent of the files were dumped in a hall in the building of the State Language department and several others in Qila Mubarak. The Rajindra Kothi now houses a heritage hotel.

The officials said that during the shifting process, records of eight princely states namely Patiala, Nabha,  Jind, Malerkotla, Kapurthala, Faridkot, Kalsian and Nalagarh were mishandled, as the workers deployed were not professionals and  they had no idea about the worth of the files. Therefore, the files were simply dumped in bundles.

They  dded that when the department was running at its previous location, all the rare paintings and the manuscripts in its possession were put on display in the museum. However, after its shifting to the building located in old deputy commissioner's office ,  all the paintings and manuscripts have been lying wrapped in covers as the department lacks space for displaying the artefacts.

The department has in its possession 37,000 books, 600 manuscripts and 371maps. Among its prized possessions are the Akbarnama volume I and II by Abul Fazal, which record  the history of Mughal dynasty upto the 47th year of emperor Akbar's reign (1603). Also, there is a Hukamnama by Guru Gobind Singh of 1707, which reproduces  a letter issued by Guru Gobind Singh to Khalsa Sangat to muster with arms.

While rare paintings available include those with titles like Seals of Lahore Durbar, Treaty between Eeast India Co and S Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh Aluwalia, Officers of the 2nd Punjab cavalry, King Ahmad Shah Abdali and Raja Teja Singh.

The officials  informed that a large number of the records available were in Persian language which are yet to be translated. Though the government had put up advertisements in newspapers for translators, no candidate turned up.

The present building presents a dismal picture as it houses countless pigeons and most of its window panes are broken. Due to shortage of class IV employees, no regular cleaning is done.

The available staff in the department is burdened with twice the workload they can normally handle.

When the principal secretary cultural affairs, museums, archives and archaeology, SS Channy was contacted on the matter, he said, "We will look into the matter and do the needful."

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