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Many Items Missing from Meghalaya State Museum

Chumthang News Service,
Shillong/2015: Gold, copper and silver ornaments, head chura with red stones, antique coins, artifacts, bamboo and cane materials and unique garments of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo tribes were the items worth several lakhs of rupees found missing from State Museum (Williamson Sangma Museum), Shillong, Meghalaya over many years.

It was after the Accountant General (Audit), Shillong found out the missing items recently during the inspection that the Arts and Culture Department filed an FIR with the police on Tuesday. Police have started preliminary investigation on Tuesday itself, but sources said that there is a need to have a high level probe into the matte since the antique and unique items went missing over the past several years.

An official source said on Wednesday that the theft of museum pieces may have taken place before CCTV was installed in the museum before September 2008. However, questions are being raised as to why the AG detected the matter only this year since the museologist who took over in 2009 had remarked in the Accession Register that several items registered as brought to the State Museum were not available in the Museum. The Accession Register has the data from 1976.

A few of the unique gold ornaments were donated by D. Singh IAS who was Deputy Commissioner, Tura in 1976. As per official records, the State Museum, Shillong was first established in 1975, under the Department of Education and housed in the Legislative Assembly building. Initially, it was a small gallery with the display of a few collections.

When the Arts and Culture department was created in 1988, the entire exhibits were shifted to the State Museum building.
Earlier, the officers of Accountant General, Shillong had inspected records of the Director, Arts and Culture department for the period from August 2011 to December 2014.As per the scrutiny of records carried out by the officers of Accountant General from February to March this year, Accession Register was maintained by Arts and Culture department. But the value of antiquities received as gifts was not evaluated and hence the value of the antiquities in the Accession Register was kept blank.
The audit party carried out a joint physical verification of antiquities along with the officials of the Arts and Culture department. Several items were found missing as per the verification. The Accountant General suggested a thorough inquiry to be initiated by the Arts and Culture Department.


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