Friday, 31 May 2013

Archaeological Plundering in India

The Times of India has an article about archaeological plundering in India. "It remains a matter of great shame for us," says Alok Tripathi, director, Centre for Archaeology and Museology of Assam University.
India's Treasure Trove Act stipulates reporting the find of any treasure, exceeding Rs 10 in value, to the government which can then acquire it from the finder.'The Act provides for a generous reimbursement to the finder says Tripathi. "For instance, those who bring in gold coins are to be paid 20% more than the market value. But due to its provisions not being advertised properly and lackadaisical implementation, it has become toothless." The prevalence of a highly active antique smuggling mafia has further aided archaeological plundering. "Many such gangs - which often operate under political and police protection - are quite active in UP, Bihar and parts of MP," says KK Muhammad, former regional director of the Archaeological Survey of India. "In sites of ancient cities like Hastinapur and Ahichatra, their agents often plunder objects that come up on the ground during the rainy season." Although estimates are difficult to come by, experts say that every year, thousands of such objects - which are picked off ancient sites and may include some invaluable archaeological pieces - are shipped out of the country without anybody being the wiser. "Only when those responsible for preserving heritage passionately fight this menace through proactive means, can there be a change in the situation," says Tripathi. Till that happens, the country's history will continue to be surreptitiously lifted off the ground and slipped outside, piece by piece.

Atul Sethi, 'Archaeological plundering in India getting worrisome, say experts', TNN May 31, 2013.

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