SRINAGAR: On ‘world heritage day’, a barge of Kashmiri autocratic ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh preserved at SPS Museum here was used as dustbin during a heritage conservation event on Tuesday.
The barge, locally known as ‘agan boat’ was gifted to Ranbir by the queen Victoria. It had all the accumulated waste of food packets and water bottles which were given as refreshment to visitors during the function.
Directorate of Archives, Archeology and Museums had organized a function titled ‘World Heritage Day’ for display of recent findings and rare manuscripts. It had displayed coins found at different places, the Quran caligraphed in golden ink and nearly 3000 years old Gilgit manuscripts, for visitors. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan was the chief guest.
A witness told Kashmir Reader that all leftover was dumped on the top of barge. The waste included empty water bottles and food waste.
Zareef Ahmad Zareef, poet and satirist said the boat was given as a gift to Ranbir Singh by Queen Victoria. He said it was given in response to a welcome presentation by the ruler when the queen had to arrive New Delhi to meet kings of south Asia. He said Ranbir had spread his own carpet in the Queen’s reception, which was guarded by two guards, one a three feet dwarf and another a six feet tall soldier.
“This presentation of two unique men made the queen laugh and she gave the boat as a gift to the ruler. But it is unfortunate to see it used as dustbin. The department has also left it forlorn depicting non-seriousness of the department towards the heritage. Celebrating the day is good, but the presentation of rare monuments is a testimony of how it is being preserved by the department,” said Zareef.
The boat damaged by the September 2014 floods has not been repaired.
Director, archives and archaeology Mohammad Shafi Zahid said it was unfortunate to know that it was used as a dustbin. He said action would be taken against the officials who would be found involved in the ‘callousness’.
“I have put in all efforts to revive the department. Sometimes such incidents inadvertently take place but proper action would be taken to fix responsibility,” Zahid said adding the department is inviting tenders to initiate repairs of the barge.