Expressing deep sense of indignation over the Dundiakhera “treasure hunt” fiasco in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh last September, the Indian History Congress (IHC) has come down heavily on Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for abusing the archaeology instead of preserving it.

At a general body meeting after the completion of its 74th session here on Monday, the IHC in a resolution has called for an enquiry to identify the persons responsible for making ASI complicit in such an enterprise, and to determine the amount of taxpayers’ money lost in it.

In search of about 1,000 tonnes of gold buried under the palace of a 19 century king, the ASI supervised a digging operation reportedly suspected on no better piece of evidence than the dreams of a local seer.

“The long continuation of digging by the ASI, under the eyes of foreign and Indian media has brought considerable dishonour to the ASI”, the IHC resolution said adding that incidentally, the excavation was “illegal” for the fact that no proposal for it was brought before the standing committee of the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology, which is an essential prerequisite.

The IHC was also equally critical about the interference of bureaucrats in administration of professional institutions undertaking historical and archaeological researches.

Appointment of bureaucrats condemned

In another resolution passed on the day, the IHC condemned the appointment of civil service officers to head the institutions like ASI, National Archives, Indira Gandhi National Council of Arts and the National Museums.

“It has been noticed that the Central government consistently fails in taking timely steps to appoint the heads of these institutes as and when they fall vacant and instead, civil service officers having no necessary qualifications are appointed to head such institutions”, the resolution said adding that all the four institutions are now in this unenviable position without any convincing reason.

“The Dundiakhera fiasco...would not have happened, if the ASI had a competent DG to give proper advice to the powers concerned”, the resolution said strongly recommending the Government of India to rectify the lapses and return the said institutions to the stewardship of professionally qualified persons.