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— Dawn
— Dawn

SAHIWAL: Excavation on scientific archaeological basis, determination of land owners through land revenue records and appointment of watchmen are required to protect 2nd century BC archeological site of Tibba Talwara in Lodhran district.

This was an initial observation of Archeological Department Multan Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Malik Gulam Muhammad who visited the site on Tuesday to get first-hand information.

He said there were bulldozers, cranes, trucks and tractors-trolleys operating at Tibba Talwara until recently and they were digging earth from the mound that dated back to the Ashoka period.

Suggests measures to dept for site’s protection

After the matter of illegal digging was raised by a local citizen, Waris Malik, news on it was printed in Dawn both the Punjab Archeological Department and Lodhran district administration moved to stop the local contractor from digging of earth from Tibba Talwara.

“But this is a temporary arrangement and there is need for a permanent solution to deal with issue so that no one can dig out more earth from Tibba Talwara. Around seven to eight acres land associated with mound has already been captured by a local person who claimed that the piece of land was allocated to him in 1962,” he said.

The SDO added he had visited the historical site, collected pictures and information from the locals.

“About eight acres land of total 32 acres has already been grabbed during the last four decades by a local person who claims to be a former municipal corporation employee.”

Mr Ghulam Muhammad said that although digging had been stopped yet it might again restart until some concrete measures were taken by the department while keeping the revenue department on board.

“Evidences show that earth has been taken from the mound having more than 140 feet height. Digging at the mound has been going on for decades but it still has around 1,400 1,600 feet length. One can see crane scratches at different sides of the mound.”

The SDO said 25 acres land belonging to the mound had no signs of digging. Many people had established permanent settlements there by raising mud boundary walls on different points of the Tibba Talwara, he added.

Locals were also involved in digging and one could see many holes at different mounds as people looked for precious antique objects. Mud pots, utensils and human bones could be seen at the site.

Mr Ghulam Muhammad said the site remained a hub of activity until 16th century AD as the remains at the mound showed. This had been confirmed by Hasan Khokhar, curator of Harappa Museum, in his initial survey a decade ago.

Mr Ghulam Muhammad would now forward his recommendations to Punjab Archaeology director general.

The recommendations included a suggestion to the archaeology department to immediately write to the Lodhran revenue department and deputy commissioner to furnish the land ownership record of Tibba Talwara; bringing experts and archaeologists to excavate the site and determine its historical value and appointment of watchmen to stop digging.

The mound was basically Fort Talwara which was last rebuilt 1,300 years ago by the descendents of Bhatti King Mangal Rao. Some people say that it was built by Ashoka. According to Lodhran, a book by Taqi Shamim, Fort Talwara was named after Tawara (232-273 BC), one of the sons of Ashoka.

The fort was called Tawara but after its invasion by Bhattis, its name was changed to Talwara. It was once the headquarters of Bhatti kings who were defeated by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni and they fled to the area in south of Multan.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2018