Disappearance of artifacts from State Museum
SHILLONG: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has held the State Directorate of Arts and Culture accountable for the loss of several priceless artifacts from Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum. If detailed verification was carried out, more loss would have been detected, but more importantly, this has resulted in invaluable loss of artifacts depicting the rich traditional heritage of the people of the State, the CAG observed. The CAG blamed the failure of the Directorate to conduct periodical verification that has resulted in the loss of the artifacts from Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum while police report is awaited as the State government in December, 2015, had stated that the Directorate was carrying out a thorough investigation and the final report would be submitted after the receipt of the police report. Disappearance of artifacts from State Museum It may be reminded that in August, 2015, the Arts & Culture Directorate had filed an FIR about disappearance of several items from the State Museum which include gold, copper and silver ornaments, head chura (crown) with red stones, antique coins, artifacts, bamboo and cane materials and unique garments of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo tribes worth several lakhs of rupees. After the department conducted the preliminary inquiry, the 54 ‘missing’ items were found to have been shifted to three small museums at Tura, Jowai and Shilpigram in Guwahati, informed Matsiewdor War, Director, Arts and Culture in September, 2015.
At the same time, the CAG found lapses in proper documentation of the transfer of artifacts to different exhibition sites was also fraught with risk of the State losing ownership of its artifacts with the passage of time.
The CAG report indicated that no half-yearly verification of its antiquities was done by the Directorate during the period covered by audit, a joint physical inspection of 67 randomly selected artifacts entered in the accession register of the William Sangma Museum, Shillong was conducted in February, 2015 by a team consisting of an audit party and the curator of the museum.
The team found that out of 67 artifacts, eight artifacts of which only three were valued at the time of its acquisition at Rs 0.39 lakh was missing and that 31 other artifacts were not found but claimed by the Directorate that these items were transferred to Jowai Museum and Shilpagram (Guwahati) etc.
However, the provision of Meghalaya Financial Rules, 1981 stipulates that half-yearly verification of stock be done to ascertain whether the balance in hand represents the quantities in the account books.
The documentary evidence pertaining to the transfer of these items to other sites were however, not available, the CAG stated in its report.