Protecting ancient monuments and antiquities

Our ancient monuments, antiquities , ruins, obelisks, mementos, statues and the like are our rich heritage signifying civilization(al) , cultural, historical and architectural achievements in addition to how we excelled in promotion of arts, crafts , literature and other walks of life . It becomes a profoundly sincere duty of individuals, societies and the Governments concerned to ensure their preservation and maintenance and prevent by all means, any attempts to damage and disfigure them and avert any sort of trafficking thereof which otherwise is a cognizable offence.
The fact of the matter is that an emotional attachment with these splendid symbols of our rich heritage should have been a guarantee in itself about their standing and remaining preserved unscathed and unharmed but presence of such elements cannot be totally overruled who think and act otherwise and that actually has been taking place almost with impunity. Shocking instances have been there across the then state of Jammu and Kashmir , even to the extent of plundering them and many of those monuments which had been there as a result of great hard work, were found defaced and disfigured. Hence, a need was felt to have some more stringency in the existing laws to ensure their protection from all hues. It is heartening to note that those who think to violate these monuments etc would now think twice before indulging in such acts to the detriment of these prized pieces of antiquity. This has been as a result of several amendments to an Act which was passed in the year 1977 known as Jammu and Kashmir Ancient Monuments Preservation Act and was enacted for the preservation of ancient monuments and symbols of archaeological , historic and artistic interest. It also had provisions to check trafficking and other illegal acts associated with these priceless possessions.
In this connection, Union Ministry of Home Affairs has been seized of the matter and accordingly felt to have these monuments preserved by means of providing to them a legal framework support by causing the existing Act undergo amendments in order to increase the quantum of punishment for different acts of violation and causing harm to these monuments. Illegal activities like mining , quarrying , excavation, blasting and other similar acts near such monuments were posing danger to these monuments , the offence of which has now been made punishable with enhanced amount of fine from Rs.25000 to Rs.50000 . Similarly, for inflicting damages like disfiguring and defacing, would now attract higher amount of fine than the existing limit. Similarly, rules have been framed in respect of archaeological excavations in protected areas . However, Ladakh which also is a Union Territory, shall have to make its own laws in this respect.
We have no qualms about the concern in respect of protecting and preserving of our monuments and antiquities by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and by the UT Government of Jammu and Kashmir and towards that end, several amendments in the existing Act having resulted in the enhancement of the amount of fine only, appears not sufficient. We feel, fine and imprisonment both , depending upon the severity of crime, should have been in the amendments carried out and not by enhancing the quantum of fine only. However , now that could be possible to be added into the existing law only in future but what is more important is the early implementation of the amended provisions in the existing laws in order to protect, preserve and sustaining of these symbols of our rich heritage.


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