Law Students of Bangladesh Army International University of Science and Technology (BAIUST) have recently visited the Archaeological sites of Cumilla (Maynamati-Lalmai Group of Monuments). The purpose of such visit was to see the conservation measures taken by the Government’s Department of Archaeology under the law and to identify the gaps between law and reality. For the preservation and protection of antiquities or archaeological sites of Bangladesh “the Antiquities Act, 1968” was enacted. Under the law, the term “antiquity” means– any ancient product of human activity, movable or immovable, illustrative of art, architecture, craft, custom, literature, morals, politics, religion, warfare, science or of any aspect of civilisation or culture; any ancient object or site of historical, ethnographical, anthropological, military or scientific interest; and any other ancient object or class of such objects declared by the Government. The precondition for such sites or objects is– it must be ancient. For the purposes of this Act, “ancient” means anything belonging or relating to any period prior to the preceding hundred years.
As per the Act, antiquities are of two types- “immovable antiquity” and “movable antiquity”. Immovable antiquities are to be preserved in-situ and the movable antiquities are to be protected ex-situ, for instance, through museums. Students found both type of antiquities in Maynamati-Lalmai area. They visited Shalban Vihara, Bhoj Vihara, Ananda Vihara, Rupban Mura, Itakhola Mura and the museum. They realised that since the Act only speaks of reactive functions not of the proactive ones to be done by the Department of Archaeology, Department of Archaeology is not taking initiatives for exploration of new sites or objects. At the same time, existing sites are also remaining as neglected.
The news is covered by Md Fahad Hossain and Tajdia Sarwar, Students of Law, BAIUST.