Jammu University will not say if it ‘stole’ mammoth fossil from Kashmir
Srinagar, Jan 30: Jammu University denies possession of rare mammoth fossil that was illegally transported from Kashmir and has been housed in the varsity Wadia Museum of Natural History (WMNH) since 2007.
In response to an RTI filed by the author and historian Khalid Bashir Ahmad, the Jammu University’s Museum has claimed to have “no traces of mammoth fossil in the institute”.
In 2000, students and teachers of Sopore Degree College had discovered a fossil of mammoth at Galandhar, Pampore, comprising of complete lower and upper jaws, a broken tusk and a vertebra during a study tour.
The carbon dating method of upper strata of the Pampore Karewa, had estimated the fossil to be at least 50,000 years old.
Later in 2007, it came to light that the fossil was missing from the place, which later unearthed that a teacher from Jammu University had illegally transported it from Galandhar to the Jammu University.
Author, historian Khalid Bashir Ahmad said he had the pictorial evidences of the mammoth fossils housed in the Jammu University’s museum since 2007.
He said the university administration in responses to the RTI have continuously denied any information about the presence of fossil in the university.
The RTI documents, which Ahmad shared with The Kashmir Monitor, said the Public Information Officer (PIO), Jammu University, Imran Farooq, in his response dated December 4, 2017, had earlier refused to provide information to the RTI on the ground of not being related to public interest.
“That the information sought by you is not related to any public activity or interest and also does not involve the larger public interest. Justify the public interest in the disclosure of the information sought,” the RTI response from PIO to Ahmad said.
Ahmad said that Jammu University administration have been maintaining silence over the illegal possession of the rare mammoth fossil.
“Intriguingly, the PIO maintains a loud silence on whether the Galandhar fossil missing from Kashmir, was surreptitiously brought to Jammu University in 2007. He is also silent on whether the University knew that the fossil had been illegally brought from Kashmir, and whether it supported this illegal act,” he said.
Ahmad said, “Silence is equally maintained on whether the University will return the fossil, and on its response to requests made earlier for its return in view of the then Vice Chancellor’s assurance. Of all the points raised in the RTI application, the PIO has chosen only to respond to the query whether the fossil has been installed at the newly established WMNH.”
The noted author slammed the Kashmir University and Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums for being “callous” in retaining the rare fossil.
“Despite spending tens of thousands of rupees on its excavation in 2000, it literally looked the other way when it was stolen from Galandhar. Neither did the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums step in. I am afraid the Kashmir University is tacitly helping Jammu University in retaining the fossil,” he said.
Expressing the importance of the rare mammoth fossil for Kashmir, Ahmad said that experts believed its unearthing was one of the most significant archaeological developments regarding Kashmir’s past.
“Its significance lay in the strong prospect of its redefining natural and climatic history of Kashmir. The fossil, according to international norms and archaeological laws should be returned to its place of discovery. The Government of Jammu & Kashmir has recently allotted about 20 kanals of land at Gyruil Ravine, Khomoh for establishing a Fossil Park which should be its natural place of installation.”