LAHORE, March 26: The coins displayed in the Lahore museum are mere replicas as the original ones are kept locked in its stores for fear of theft.
Since there is no plan so far to display the real coins, most people will probably never see the treasure.
“The practice is followed everywhere in the world,” an official says.
The treasure comprises 38,000 rare coins, including quite a few in pure gold. They belong mainly to the sub-continent.
The museum has a total of 58,000 artifacts. Out of these only 14,000 are displayed in various galleries. The remaining, including the coins, coins are kept in its stores.
A museum said some of the coins were as old as 6th century AD and “too precious to be displayed.”
He said the ‘coins’ on display were just replicas. The original ones are shown only to researchers and special guests under special security arrangements.
“Each of the coins is worth a million dollars. There are pure gold ‘ashrafis’ of Mughal period and the unique leather coins,” he says.
The official said the treasure was regularly checked. Security arrangements for the stores, he said, were better than those for display galleries.
The Lahore museum was established during the British period. Under a sharing formula devised given the British, it shared its collection with the Chandigarh museum at the time of independence.
Last year it attracted countrywide attention after theft of five rare manuscripts from one of its galleries. This led to the removal of the then acting director who is now facing an inquiry.
While investigating the much publicized theft, the authorities also learnt about the theft of a computer and salaries of the staff. The librarian was held responsible for the theft of the computer and penalized. The case of the salaries is still pending with the police.
Several inquiries held to fix responsibility for the theft of 200 coins have failed to do so.
In view of the thefts and inadequacy of the security measures pointed out by a former director, Mansoor Suhail, the Punjab government has now sanctioned around Rs1.7 million for the installation of circuit cameras and other arrangements.
The cameras would cover the entire museum and operate 24 hours a day.
A metal detector purchased in 1983 has been repaired and brought in use.
Mr Suhail had also sought funds for the replacement of all locks in the museum which appeared to be “ancient.” The locks are now being replaced at a cost of Rs85,000. For security reasons, the authorities are keeping the schedule a secret.