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BAHAWALPUR: The director general audit, Punjab, claims in a report for 2015-16 that 227 artefacts disappeared from the Bahawalpur museum.

The para 11 of audit report sent to the museum officials recently says that “during audit, it was observed that stocktaking of museum antiques was conducted in 2004 and 2011 in which it transpired that 227 antiques were missing/destroyed whereas five antiques were stolen. The FIR was lodged with police during 2004 but no recovery was made as yet. Further that no responsibility was fixed by the department upon any officer/official and no one was held responsible for missing/destroyed/theft of valuable antiques.”

It was further added in the audit report that it was observed that from 2011 onward, no activity of stocktaking was conducted.

The auditor desired that the physical verification of antiques should be made in each calendar year and effective steps be taken to safeguard the antiques. The report observed that the missing/destroyed/stolen antiques was a result of poor security arrangements and bad governance by the museum management. The auditor concluded his report with the remarks that the significance of the matter needed inquiry at administrative level to fix responsibility and to recover the missing/stolen antiques. He stressed that “the case may also be pursued vigorously with police authorities to recover the highly valuable antiques” and recommended to make the compliance under intimation to him.

Director Museum Zubair Rabbani confirmed to Dawn the museum’s audit report for 2015-16 and its findings but said the missing/destroyed articles could neither be called antiques nor could they be attached historic/valuable importance. These included small articles such as pitcher, clay agarbati stand, cotton hand-made article used for tying camel, a wooden Kashmiri table, one manuscript of Hamail Sharif, calligraphy, rugs and some issues of the oldest ex-State period journal called “Muraqqa Jahan Numa”. The 95 stolen objects included a necklace, a silver ring and armband.

In a statement, Museum’s PRO Ms Nadia claims that two FIRs in 1999 and 2004 were lodged with police about the thefts in the museum. She claimed that during previous years a committee had finalised its report mentioning the theft of 95 artefacts out of 5,000 antiques and articles while the remaining 227 were written off with the approval of the then Board of Governor in 1998.

She claimed that a complete record of the antiques and artefacts were maintained in the museum where no change could be possible but a regular process of its scrutiny was carried out during different periods.

She added that the DPO had also been sent a letter to inform about any update in respect of the FIRs.

The existing Board of Governor headed by Senator Saood Majid Chaudhry has not taken notice of the audit report of 2015-16. The new board was constituted by the Punjab government last year while the previous board was headed by ex-MPA Jahanzeb Warren during the first stint of Shahbaz Sharif as chief minister.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2017