Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 7
Stung by reports of alleged connivance of the then Director, Museums and Archaeology, with an antique smuggler, the state government has decided to hold a third-party audit of antiquities in Punjab’s museums. The audit will be conducted by experts from the National Museum, New Delhi.
Former Director Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa had reportedly confessed before the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence recently that he helped antiquity smuggler Vijay Nanda buy furniture made by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanerette in Chandigarh. Sources in the department said the Director held the charge of all museums in the state. A team of top officials, including Jaspal Singh, Principal Secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and department Director Shivdular Singh Dhillon, had a meeting with antiquity experts in New Delhi last week.
Jaspal Singh said they had also the Director General of the National Museum. “We have requested him to send their experts for an independent audit,” he added. The government has also requested the Director General to provide experts for examining every antiquity item and declare it as original or a replica. It has sought a comprehensive report on Punjab’s museums, which house more than 50,000 antiquity items.
Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said it was a case of theft of heritage items. “All antiquities in the state’s museums will be audited by national-level experts,” he said, adding that it had come to his notice that daggers and miniature paintings were stolen earlier from the state’s museums. He said the plunderers of Punjab’s heritage couldn’t go scot-free. “Suitable action will be taken after the audit. FIRs will be registered against the people behind this racket,” the minister said.
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