‘ASI not serious about maintenance and preservation of historical sites’
Srinagar, Dec 1: Given the fact that Kashmir has a richer archaeological base than any other place, no Circle (office) of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) exists in Kashmir from past two decades as a result all but 48 historical sites ‘protected’ by ASI in Valley are in dilapidated condition.
Official records reveal that in comparison to Jammu where there are only eight monument sites, out of which six are registered with ASI, Kashmir has 69 monument sites and 48 are registered with ASI. “The statistics are enough to prove that Kashmir should have been given special attention. But the reality is that Jammu has always got preference over Kashmir and from past 20 years no efforts are being made to shift the Gandhi Nagar based office to Kashmir,” said an official to CNS.
Well placed sources said that all the historically important sites at Awantipora, Martand, Parihaspora, Askur Baramulla, Budshah tomb, Makhdoom Sahab Masjid are in shambles and due to official neglect these sites are losing sheen. “Come and visit Buddhist Assembly site at Harwan, Naranag Temple at Wangat, Dara Shaku Masjid and Buddhist Tomb in Srinagar, you will see all these sites in mess. Given the importance of Harwan site, the ASI could have developed it on modern lines to “showcase the Buddhist culture that flourished in Kashmir” for almost eight centuries. Instead, the site is in ruins and the antiques present are in a shambles,” said an official who wished not to be named.
Reports said that cattle and stray dogs are seen roaming freely at some important sites including Naranag temple. This is not the only case the Makhdoom Sahab Masjid that was built by Dara Shikwa in honor of his mentor Mullah Akhoon is in shambles too. “The year 1981 was bad for Kashmir historical point of view when ASI took over all the important sites from State Archaeological Department and left them to perish slowly,” the official said. He said that the ASI office has been functioning from Jammu thus making it difficult for the officials here to execute different works in time.
When contacted an ASI official told CNS that majority of the employees of ASI are Kashmiri Pandits who are not only reluctant but object about the shifting of office from Jammu to Srinagar. “Besides, we lack manpower and once we will get over this problem, the ASI will preserve and maintain the historical sites in an efficient manner,” he said. (CNS)