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ICOM-Bangladesh seeks return of antiquities from India-Pakistan


ICOM-Bangladesh seeks return of antiquities from India-Pakistan

“A museum is a place where the past unfolds in front of your eyes, where curiosity meets discovery.”

Chairperson of International Council of Museum (ICOM)-Bangladesh, Professor of Department of Archaeology, Jahangirnagar University,  Dr Sufi Mostafizur Rahman called for the return of antiquities from India and Pakistan at a seminar on the International Museum Day 2022, held at Jahangirnagar University yesterday. 

International Council of Museum (ICOM)-Bangladesh, Department of Archaeology and Department of History of Jahangirnagar University jointly arranged the seminar at 11:30 am at Zahir Raihan Auditorium in Jahangirnagar University

Mr Rahman presided over the seminar and in his welcoming speech said, “An inscription, very important for Bangladesh, was discovered in 1930 at the ancient Pundranagar (Mahasthangarh). The Prakrito language inscription in Brahmi script bears witness to the earliest writing in Bangladesh. The Mahasthan inscription is an invaluable testimony to the system of government, economic system and political conditions of the time.” 

“In 1930, Bangladesh was then part of a united India, so the invaluable artefacts were taken to the Indian Museum, Calcutta. It is a great sadness to say that 75 years after the partition of the country, the Mahasthan Inscription is still in the Indian Museum.”

Large-scale archaeological excavations were carried out in the 1950s and ‘60s at Shalban Bihar and other archaeological sites in Mainamati, Comilla. 

Numerous artefacts discovered during the excavations were taken to then West Pakistan, but they have not returned even after 50 years of independence. At present they are lying neglected in Pakistan's warehouses.

From this glorious occasion of International Museum Day today, we demand the return of our vital roots from India and Pakistan. Many artefacts collected during the colonial rule are being returned to their home countries all over the world. 

Germany has recently returned many Namibian artefacts. Kenya has demanded the return of artefacts preserved in the British Museum and the Smithsonian Museum in the United States.

“We hope that our Ministry of Culture will take immediate steps to bring back invaluable artefacts from India and Pakistan following the current trend like other countries in the world; The International Museum Council, affiliated with the United Nations, will co-operate fully in this regard in accordance with the law and policy," added Dr Rahman.

Ms Simeen Hussain Rimi, MP, Honorable Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Culture Affairs, consented to grace the occasion as the Chief Guest but due to illness, she couldn't join the seminar. She somehow joined over the phone and greeted the attendees for organising such a seminar. 

Mr Sikder Md. Zulkernine, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Jahangirnagar University and Executive Board Member of ICOM-Bangladesh presented the Keynote Paper on the theme 'The Power of Museums' in the Seminar.

Professor Sheikh Md Monzurul Huq, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Jahangirnagar University, Professor Dr Rasheda Akhtar, Treasurer, Jahangirnagar University and Professor Dr Md. Mozammel Hoque, Dean, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Jahangirnagar University were present at the seminar as special guests.

Professor Mohammad Mozahidul Islam, Chairman of the Department of History, and Professor Dr Jayanta Singh Roy, Chairman of the Department of Archeology delivered their speech on the scarcity, importance and challenges of museums in our country in front of around 200 students and teachers of various department of the university.

The seminar concluded with a captivating cultural program with the participation of members of ICOM-Bangladesh and students of the Department of Archaeology, Jahangirnagar University.

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