December 2006 News

Dogras angry over shifting of treasure trove

29 December 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Binoo Joshi

Jammu: The shifting of a treasure trove of Jammu and Kashmir's Dogra rulers from a historic building here to the civil secretariat has raised concerns over the fate of the priceless antiques.Dogras, the natives of Jammu region, are agitated over the shifting, calling it a conspiracy. They see the collection a part of a heritage of their ancestors.The government has already moved several items, including a golden throne, palanquins, and utensils and idols worth billions of dollars from Rani Charaki Palace building.The building is part of the huge Mubarak Mandi complex, a unique architecture of the 19th century and constructed of bricks and mortar. These items were shifted to the civil secretariat following a fire in the building about two weeks ago.After the blaze, which gutted a part of The building was damaged in the October 2005 earthquake. The blaze gutted a part of the building and it was promptly declared 'unsafe'. Said Minister for Public Works Gulchain Singh Charak: 'The building is unsafe. It would be imprudent to keep the treasure there. The contents are being temporarily moved to civil secretariat for their safety.'But the decision is seen by many Dogras as a 'manipulation' to take away Dogra heritage from its people to the Kashmir Valley.'It is nothing but an attempt to take the treasure to Srinagar,' said Ram Lal Sharma, a social activist. His fears were rooted in the fact that a part of the treasure trove taken to Srinagar by the Sheikh Abdullah government in 1975 has not returned to Jammu in the past over 30 years.Ajatshatru Singh, grandson of Mahraja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king of Jammu and Kashmir, suggested that the treasure could be shifted to Jammu's Amar Mahal Museum, where many artefacts of his grandfather and great grandfather's times were kept. 'It would be safe there (Amar Mahal Museum) and also could be shifted back to Mubarak Mandi complex, as and when the original building is repaired and made safe,' he said.Charak rejected the suggestion. 'It is government property and not the property of any family.'


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