The right foot of a Yaksha statue, dating back to 2nd century BC, was on Wednesday found to be damaged at Indian Museum in Kolkata, reportedly owing to lack of maintenance and proper care.
“I have not been informed but if this happened, it is a great loss to the country. The statue dates back to before Christ and is a rarest of the rare art object. Nothing could make up for the loss. Earlier, they broke the Rampurva Lion Capital, and now this has happened. I will find out tomorrow,” P K Mishra, regional director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), told The Indian Express.
The incident comes less than a month after the Supreme Court gave an order in a PIL filed by environmentalist Subhas Dutta that the Ministry of Culture should take every step to protect artifacts and historical objects kept in museums across the country.
Incidentally, Ravindra Singh, Secretary in the Union Ministry of Culture, is slated to visit the museum on Friday to meet officials.
The damage to the irreplaceable object was discovered on Wednesday morning when some officials were inspecting items to prepare for Singh’s visit. Insiders said an attempt was made to cover the damaged part, but conservation department officials intervened and stopped it.
Later, officials reportedly reprimanded some interns, who work as guides, for not taking proper care of the objects.
Governor Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the museum, said, “I am in Siliguri and I will order an investigation when I come back day after tomorrow.”
When contacted, Ashok Nath Tripathy, the museum’s media officer, claimed, “It is not damage. It was done in the course of a chemical process.” Sources said the Stupa, an ancient stone object kept at the Gandhara gallery, has also been damaged.