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Govt launches e-archive website having historical data

Srinagar, Feb 28: A web portal containing digitized records of the State archives having important historical and culturally valued documents were launched on Thursday.
The portal will enable researches and scholars across the globe to easily access the historical data of Jammu and Kashmir from 1724 AD to 1985.
Pertinently, the exercise of digitization of the historical, administrative and cultural records has been started by the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums by virtue of which 70 lakh pages of archrival records dating from 1724 AD to 1985 would be digitized and brought online for the ready reference of students, scholars, historians and researches across the global.
The records available through online pertain to Revenue Department, GAD, Education, Home, Finance, Industries Departments, Census Reports,  Annual Administration Reports, Acts of J&K, Old English Records, Estate Department, Food & Supplies, Council Orders, Council Resolutions, Council Proceedings, Cabinet orders and other rare books.
An official of the Archives Department explained, “The delay in funds, lack of manpower, not having a web server to upload the pages, non-availability of engineers who have a technical know-how are some of the hiccups that we have faced.”
He informed, “We are currently working on 70 lakh pages of records and will upload them on the website in the coming days. Anyone can access these records from anywhere free of cost,” adding that the website shall be fully operational by March 10.
The department has archival records dating to Mughal, Afghan, Sikh, Dogra period and post-Independence era. The records pertaining to former governors, cabinet orders, government departments including GAD/chief secretary’s office, revenue, agriculture, finance, industries, estates, administrative reports, council orders, and council resolutions are also being digitized under the project.
The valley based scholars are excited about the archival website. Zeeshan Khan, a research scholar from Kashmir University, said “It is wonderful that archives are being opened to the general public. During my research I have felt the lack of access to them acutely. With open access, historical research will improve significantly.”
Another research scholar, Umar Bhat said, “I am pursuing PhD in history from Kashmir University. I am sure I will end up downloading most of the pages, especially from the Mughal era and add them to my collection.”
Director Archives, Archaeology and Museums Government of J&K Munir-ul-Islam said that age-old records are prone to be brittle by regular human touch and the department ensured that the records of today are preserved for future generation.
“The move will boost the state government’s effort to use technology to improve the lives of people. The online records will help research scholars, administrative departments of state government, judiciary and general public.”
He added, “Further, it will be helpful in a variety of research uses, including teaching purpose, building plans, publications and legal proceedings.”
Dr Tahir Firaz, a P.hD from Dublin University said that he is delighted to know that J&K archives will be digitized. “We have already lost a lot of material due to devastating 2014 floods, and digitizing will definitely help preserving our historical records, which are memories of a society. I hope it is done professionally and all the safeguards are observed. Most importantly it should be accessible to all, that will immensely help Kashmiri researchers to produced better, empirically-grounded scholarship,” he said.