High Court seeks report on ‘neglect’ of Burzehama archaeological site

Ishfaq Tantry

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 10 

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the director of Archives, Archaeological and Museums, J&K, in a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection and conservation of archaeological sites and remains at Burzehama on the outskirts of Srinagar.

The court further directed them to file a status report about the archaeological site within four weeks as the PIL had alleged neglect of the historical site by the authorities concerned and damage by the public. 

The directions were issued by a division bench of the high court, headed by the Chief Justice Gita Mittal, which has treated a communication by Mohammad Shafi Pandit, former chairman of J&K Public Service Commission, as a PIL.

“The communication, dated June 27, 2019, sent by Mohammad Shafi Pandit regarding protection and conservation of archaeological sites and remains at Burzehama, located in the vicinity of Harwan, Srinagar, has been directed to be registered as a Public Interest Litigation,” the bench observed in its orders. The bench impleaded the Union of India through the director general of ASI, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and state of J&K through the director, Archives, Archaeological and Museums, J&K Government, Srinagar, as party respondents and issued them notices, which were accepted by Tahir Majid Shamsi, Assistant Solicitor General, and BA Dar, Senior Additional Advocate General, respectively, on behalf of their clients.

The court further directed that the copy of the communication received from Pandit be made available to both the counsels, who may file the status report within four weeks, while posting the matter for further consideration on August 28.

Located 16 km from Srinagar city 

  • The Burzehama is located 16 km north-east of Srinagar city 
  • Archaeological excavations at the spot have revealed four phases of cultural significance, between 3000 BC and 1000 BC
  • The recent ASI findings also link the Neolithic (or New Stone Age) site to the contemporary Indus Valley civilization and establish the inhabitants' regular trade with the Harappans
  • Data from over four decades after extensive excavations at Burzehama suggest that Kashmiris, in olden times, were traditionally an artisan community, adept at weaving an intricate craftsmanship
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