Rare paintings, sculptures lost in the floods

Iqbal Kirmani

Srinagar: Precious art works dating to pre-Partition era and rare sculptures kept at the School of Music and Fine Arts at Rajbagh here have been destroyed in the recent floods.
On Wednesday, more than a month after the floods, the school looked desolated with destruction and damage visible from a distance. The college’s boundary walls have collapsed. Muck and dirt is splattered everywhere. At the entrance rare sculptures are dotted with muck. The doors are ajar with stack of books and paintings wrapped with moss and fungus. Every painting is nearly a hundred-year-old, so are the sculptures that lie buried in dirt. The floods hit this part of the city on September 7 with the waters submerging first floor of the college.
“The rare paintings by Bimal Das Gupta, Prof Pamvar, Bansi Parimoo and Nisar Aziz could not be saved from the deluge. All such rare works were lost in the foods,” Iftikhar Jaffar, who teaches Applied Arts in the college, told Kashmir Reader.
He said works of Prof Shankoo Chawdhary, a brain behind art academies of India, and works of pre-partition era of Prof B.C Sanyal are also no more. Prof Sanyal taught in the Anglo Oriental College, Lahore.
“Even a painting carrying signatures of such great artists has a market value of crores,” Jaffar.
This is not the end of the college’s devastation. Its entire library has turned into rubble. “Books which are now out of print and very rare got damaged. Fifty percent of such books were mainly brought from foreign shores. The loss is irreparable, and it pains to see the destruction of our well-maintained library,” principal of the college, Shaiqa Moin, said.
The music faculty, Shaiqa said, has lost all the instruments. “Music instruments such as santoor, sita’ar, saaz-e-Kashmir etc are damaged as they are wooden in stuff and can’t be repaired,” she said.
She lauded the role of a faculty member Sukhjit Singh Kukal and chowkidar Narbahdur Rana, who salvaged some rare artifacts by wading through knee-deep waters. “I called the principal first and sought her permission to break in the lock of strong room where rare art works are preserved. I could salvage works of MF Hussain, GR Santosh, Prof Ghulam Sheikh, Vasudeva, Shivak Chandha, Balkishan Patel and some others,” Kukal added.
Established in 1965, the School of Music and Fine Arts, is operating from a rented accommodation. “The College was functioning under Cultural Academy since its inception, but no permanent facility was provided though it is one of the departments of Kashmir University,” Shaiqa said.
“Today a team of university officials visited here and they did not dare to go upstairs and left saying that the building is not safe anymore,” said Shaiqa. “The KU officials have taken serious note of our apathy and we believe they will stand to their promise to make this institute vibrant once again.”