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September 26, 2008

Makli necropolis: new war of interests

Top Story

September 26, 2008

THATTA: Civilized nations protect their archaeological sites while here in this part of the world it has become a tug of war between two area bigwigs representing two influential groups, the Shirazis and the Palijos.

There are about 123 sites on the list of Federal Archaeological Department for preservation and out of these some 20 sites are on the historical Makli Hills of Thatta.Makli Hills host monuments and shrines of exceptionally well-decorated and beautifully carved stones, which attract people from the world over. These archaeological heritages, according to the Antiquities Act 1975, are spread over 912 acres and declared as preserved and protected area under this act.

However, influential groups of the area, particularly the above named ones during their respective government tenures, have shown disrespect to these sites by encroaching and occupying the land around these sites so much so that even the archaeological sites fall prey to their greed for land grabbing.

There is an office of Curator Makli Hill monuments at Makli. Besides, UNESCO has also notified the Makli Necropolis in the World Heritage List. But unfortunately due to lack of attention and insufficient funds no proper preservation could have taken place at these sites and influential people continue encroachment of the historical Makli Hill’s protected area.

Recently, Ghulam Qadir Palijo, an ex-MPA of PPP and father of Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism Sassui Palijo, is blamed to have encroached the site in the name of agricultural development scheme for his lands granted during the previous tenure of the PPP. However, the move was opposed by the Shirazis — another politically strong group of the area representing the former ruling party PML-Q. Shirazis blamed Palijos for destroying the Makli Hill monuments while the Palijos allege it is a planned political strategy of the Shirazis to defame them as they merely wanted to dig a watercourse for rain water

to save their agricultural lands in an adjoining Deh. They say the rain water from Makli Hills was inundating their standing crops and they wanted to pour into the newly dug canal, adding it would in no means damage the historical place. The blame game does not end here as the Shirazis say the digging of the canal or ditch beside the Makli Hills would ultimately create seepage and enhance the level of underground water and this would cause irreparable loss to the archaeological heritage of Sindh. They also allege that the heavy machinery, including bulldozers and excavators, being used to clean the area was destroying the monuments and have appealed the higher authorities to save the area by stopping the land grabbing activity of the Palijos.

When contacted, Ghulam Qadir Palijo told The News that his land was adjacent to the Makli Hills but there was no question that he was intending to destroy Sindh’s such a historical site, adding he believe rather to preserve and protect the sites. On the contrary, the Shirazis held the bulldozers and excavators being used on the site had partially damaged the shrines of Sindh great hero and warrior Dolah Darya Khan and Sindh’s ruler Jam Nizamuddin.

However, the Curator of the Makli Hill monuments, Kazim Zaidi, has written to District Nazim Thatta with copies to DCO, DPO and Director Southern Circle of Archaeology Hyderabad with a request to save the Makli’s historical sites from being encroached upon by an area influential.

It is pertinent to mention here that there are more than half-a-million ancient graves and 37 exceptionally decorated monuments and many other historical remnants spread over an area of 912 acres of land. The site represents the history of 500 glorious years of Sindh and is protected under the Antiquities Act 1975.

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