Jammu: Dogra Sadar Sabha has demanded that the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex be opened to the public, during fixed hours on all days, to enable citizens and tourists to savor the grandeur of the historic complex and witness the steps being taken to restore it to its pristine glory.
Addressing a press conference held at Dogra Bhawan today, Gulchain Singh Charak, Former Minister and President, Dogra Sadar Sabha, J&K said that it also needs to be ensured that the work is carried out in a transparent manner under the close supervision of the experts of the Archeological Survey of India as mandated in the 8th meeting of the Governing Body of the Society, to ensure that the conservation norms are adhered to, and no aspect of the precious heritage is lost during the restoration work.
He recalled that the people of Jammu had felt great joy and satisfaction on the announcement in a meeting held at Raj Bhawan in December 2020 that the iconic complex was among the heritage sites in the country listed for the celebrations of 75 years of Independence in 2022.
However, the subsequent sequence of events wherein the conservation work already in progress came to a grinding halt, the checks and balances for ensuring adherence to conservation norms were dismantled, and, instead, a process was initiated to convert the complex into a hotel in violation of the laws and regulations governing protected monuments, has caused great pain and anguish to the citizens.
Charak appealed to the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor, J&K, Manoj Sinha ji to take personal interest in the matter so that the EOI is formally withdrawn and the glorious heritage and cultural identity of the valiant and nationalistic people of Jammu is not extinguished in an illegal and surreptitious manner.
He said that expediting the implementation of the approved Comprehensive Conservation and Reuse Plan will enable Jammu’s emergence on the World cultural tourism map and benefit multiple components of Jammu’s tourism industry, including hoteliers, shopkeepers, transporters, auto and taxi operators, travel agents and others by boosting heritage tourism.
He further emphasized that intervention by the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor will also facilitate its completion for participation in Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav, commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence, as already announced.
President Dogra Sadar Sabha also expressed grave concern over the press reports that the already inadequate staff in Directorate of Archives, Archeology and Museums, J&K was being further reduced by transferring a large portion of the posts in the department to the Union Territory of Ladakh without any real need to do so.
Against about 55-60 monuments, a number of museums and a huge record dating back to over 300 years including the iconic protected monuments like the Mubarak Mandi Palaces Complex, Jammu and the Shergarhi Complex in Srinagar being looked after by the Department in Jammu and Kashmir, there are only 2 or 3 protected monuments, and hardly any record under the care of the Department in the Union Territory of Ladakh. He pointed out that an Assistant Registrar of Antiquities, equivalent to Assistant Director already stands positioned in Ladakh since long to meet the existing requirements of the Department there.
He emphasized that there is no justification in shifting the newly created post of Curator, Dogra Arts Museum from Jammu to Ladakh, as reported in the press, as the department has no museum there at present. Similarly, there is no justification in transferring one out of each of the two existing posts of Deputy Director and Assistant Director of the Department, presently positioned one each at Jammu and Srinagar, and crippling the already under staffed Department in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. He appealed to the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor, J&K, to kindly have the matter reviewed so that the preservation of the protected monuments and precious heritage of Jammu and Kashmir does not fall into further neglect.
Sh Charak also called upon the concerned authorities to take immediate steps for proper preservation of the priceless paintings and other artifacts of the Dogra Art Museum, and the rare Archival records that have been
Army Headquarters building till the time that the earmarked buildings in the complex are restored for their proper and permanent display as per International norms.
He cautioned that any move to shift the Archives from the Mubarak Mandi Complex will be suicidal as the archives are an intrinsic part of Dogra heritage and have been the soul of the complex for centuries. They also remain the cynosure of scholars of history and culture, as well as cultural tourists, from across the world, and large scale shifting of the precious but fragile centuries old record will make it prone to damage & loosing of rare and historic documents/manuscripts.
He urged upon the concerned authorities to expedite the conservation of heritage buildings, and house the archives following scientific norms within Mubarak Mandi. He further stressed upon the need to initiate large scale conservation of Archival records and artifacts for which the services of National agencies like the National Museum, NRLC or IGNCA need to be sought to prevent further damage.
Col. Karan Singh Jamwal, Brig. M.S. Jamwal, Gambhir Dev Singh Charak, Amanat Ali Shah, S. Kulbir Singh, Janak Khajuria and Chander Mohan Sharma were also present during the press conference.