Mob destroys invaluable pages of history
- EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
Pune's prestigious Bhandarkar institute may have lost a priceless
collection, including rare Jain Manuscripts.
PUNE, JANUARY 5: Pouncing on what should have been the subject of a
literary debate, hooligans in Pune today robbed the country of a
treasure trove when they ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research
Institute, home to a large number of rare books, manuscripts and
Days after forcing historian James Laine to apologise for his
observations on the parentage of Maratha warrior king Shivaji the
Oxford University Press had to even recall Laine's Shivaji: Hindu
king in Islami India a 200-strong mob, calling itself the Sambhaji
Brigade of the Maratha Seva Sangh, landed at the Bhandarkar institute
this morning and went on the rampage.
Snapping telephone lines, the mob tore books, rare writings and
damaged artefacts and several framed paintings and photos. The
departments of Mahabharatiya, manuscripts, publication, postgraduate
teaching and research bore the brunt of the attack.The police showed
up 45 minutes after the attack, citing ``lack of information''as the
reason for the delay. So far, 72 people have been arrested.
The shocking incident comes in the wake of the December 22 incident
when Shiv Sena supporters manhandled and humiliated historian
Shrikant Bahulkar, named by Laine in the book's acknowledgements.
Later, Sena leader Raj Thackeray apologised to Bahulkar, also a
member of the Bhandarkar institute's governing council.
The Bhandarkar institute, which attracts world scholars was
established on July 6, 1917. By 1920, the then Bombay administration
had handed over its entire collection of 20,000 manuscripts to the
institute for indexing and preservation.
Today's attack outraged the literary circle. Estimating the damage is
going to be the first and most painful task. Says former institute
secretary M G Dhadphale: ``It's difficult to even comprehened the
extent of the loss. With the 1920s collection and books from
Bhandarkar's pesonal library damaged, where do we go from here?''
``Someone found a copy of Sanacharya's commentary on the Rig Veda
lying on the road. He was sensible enough to return it to me.'' M A
Mehendale, chief editor of the cultural index of Mahabharata, summed
it up when he said: ``Our entire life's effort has been destroyed by
these senseless people.''
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