Tuesday, October 22, 2019
 News Details
Burzahom :An open Letter

Dear Shahid Iqbal Choudhry,

This is regarding the archaeological site and remains at Burzhom, Srinagar, recently in news for all the wrong reasons. The site has been protected under the national act, The Archaeological Monuments Monument sites and Remains Act,(AMSAR). At the time of notification, 82 kanals of land were transferred to Archaeological Survey of India. The site was identified and excavated by a Yale- Cambridge expedition in 1935 and subsequently by T N khazanchi of ASI in 1960. These excavations revealed immense importance of the site and was therefore placed on the tentative list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2014. The UNESCO describes the site as ‘a unique comprehensive storyteller of life between 3000 BCE to 1000 BCE”. The site, as per the UNESCO listing, acted as a bridge between Central Asia and beyond and the Gangetic plains and peninsular India.

I presume you would be aware of the extreme vandalization of the aforesaid site, by way of encroachments by private persons over the years, and recently, by converting most of the site into a cricket field. I understand the   sports agencies have been organizing premier league matches under the patronage of State and District Administration at the site in contravention of the Central Act and the rules guiding the protection of archaeological sites.

I, in the company of two avid activists of heritage preservation, namely, Mr. Saifuddin Soz and Mr. Saleem Beg, had an occasion to recently visit the site and it was absolutely disheartening to find that the signages that explain the relevance of the site was damaged. The site interpretation sheds and passage was also damaged. 

These developments were viewed, with serious concern, by the members of the Group of Concerned Citizens, a Civil Society Group, which raises its voice, from time to time, on important topical issues.

I have no doubt that you would know the importance of the site for our prehistory and archaeology and would not, therefore, I do not need to emphasize it any further.

Another issue which needs to be pursued is to get back the artefacts, which have been taken by the ASI authorities to Delhi, for the purpose of detailed study of age determination and linkages. This had become necessary in the absence of necessary facilities for study and storage at the site in Srinagar. It is, therefore, necessary to pursue the project already conceived for development of the site from archaeological point of view.

Another issue which needs consideration is that the site is now being utilised for playing cricket matches. This aspect concerns the State Government directly. You, as the head of the district administration, need to explore the possibility of identifying suitable land around the area for setting up of a sports field.

I earnestly request you to take immediate remedial action by providing necessary support to the ASI, for fencing and for stopping misuse of the site, and on the other points, as indicated above.
Best wishes.

(M .S. Pandit)
IAS (Rtd)
Email: - [email protected]
Mobile No- 9419000721

Mr Shahid Iqbal Choudhry,
District Development Commissioner,

(Mr Shafi Pandit is former financial commissioner,Former Chairmen J&K PSC,Chairman Group of Concerned Citizens)

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