SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed authorities to submit copy of inventory along with photographs of artifacts housed in new building of Sri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum here.
In case the inventory has not been prepared so far, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed the authorities to do so immediately.
“A status report be filed indicating clearly whether the inventory of all the artifacts in the museum has been prepared along with photographs or not, and if not, the same shall be done immediately.
If such an inventory with photographs has been prepared, a copy of the same be shown to this court and another copy be filed in a sealed cover which shall be retained by this court,” the division bench said after being informed that the new building of the museum stands fully constructed and that all the artifacts have been shifted in the new building adjacent to the old one, a 18th century heritage building built on the left bank of river Jhelum at Lal Mandi here.
“Furthermore, the status report shall clearly indicate whether proper security is in place to ensure that no pilferage or theft of valuable artifacts takes place from the museum,” the court said and directed the authorities to also indicate in the status report as to whether CCTV cameras have been installed and whether they are operational.
The status report shall also indicate the various excavation sites in Kashmir and their status, the court said.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, the court also directed the authorities to provide list of heritage monuments by June 7.
The museum has rich collection of ancient coins, terracotta, paintings, textiles, old arms and armoury, stuffed birds and animals, manuscripts and decorative art items.
One of the most brilliant pieces of the museum collection is a map of Srinagar in needlework, prepared during reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
“The map is said to have been fabricated in 37-years by one Ghulam Ahmad Kaloo on request by the Maharaja. One of the important depictions in the map is that there were no house-boats in the Dal Lake,” an official of the SPS Museum told this correspondent.
The rich collection has a piece of bronze frame of 23 incarnation of Hindu deity Vishnu. In animal-bird collection, the Museum has fossil of Black Leopard.
Meanwhile, the court appointed senior advocate R A Jan as amicus curie in the PIL and directed its registry to provide a complete set of the order sheet and other papers pertaining to the case to him within a week.
The PIL, filed in 2008 by a Srinagar based social organisation, Valley Citizens Council, seeks protection and conservation of artifacts, monuments and excavation sites in Kashmir besides directions to find the manuscript of an Aurangzeb-era copy of the Holy Quran, which was stolen along other prized articles from the museum in 2003.
The high court has already handed over the investigation into the theft of the Quran and other artifacts to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The judicial intervention has already led to retrieval of 31 copper and silver coins besides one-gun bearing accession number 412 along with other artifacts from Research Wing of the SPS libraries, which were gifted to Shimla Museum in 1973.
The other artifacts include a Persian manuscript, Mughazi-ul-Nabi- by Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi (RA), a 19th century Sharda Manuscript Panchratna by Krishna Pandit, and an 18th century painting by Swachanda Bhairva.