Chandigarh, July 22 An ancient mound which has been home to people who migrated from Pakistan nearly seven decades ago will continue to be home for hundreds of people. The Haryana government has moved to resolve a long-standing dispute over the mound.
The Ther Mound in Sirsa district, which has been home for scores of families over the decades, is now being de-notified by the BJP government in Haryana.
“The Haryana government has decided to solve the 85-year-old problem of Ther Mound in Sirsa, a creation of the previous governments. It has started the process to de-notify the protected area of Ther Mound. A public notice in this regard has already been issued by the state government,” Jagdish Chopra, political adviser to the Chief Minister said.
“Thousands of harried and helpless people, residing on Ther Mound for decades, can now heave a sigh of relief. They no more face the threat of being dislodged and displaced, their dwellings pulled down, and their source of livelihood snatched from them. The problem had been lying pending for decades,” Chopra said.
The problem over the mound was over a notification which had been issued about 85 years ago under which the Ther Mound was declared a protected area by the archaeological department. This happened before Independence.
During Partition, hundreds of families from Pakistan came to Haryana and many of them settled in Sirsa district. Scores of families, mostly financially weak, made the Ther Mound their new home.
The mound, located south-east of Sirsa town, over 250 km from Chandigarh, is technically under the protection of the Union government due to the earlier notification.
The mound dates back between 6th-5th century BC and 12th century AD, the official website of Haryana Tourism states.
“Sirsa is believed to be one of the oldest towns located in Haryana, the ancient route leading to Taxila. Its present name is derived from the ancient name Sarishika, which finds mention in the Mahabharata, Panini’s Ashtadhyayi and Buddhist text Divyavadana. The ruins of the ancient Sarishika are presumably buried in this mound,” the website points out.
“This extensive site is spread over an area of about five km in circumference with a maximum height of about 15 metres. No archaeological excavations have so far been conducted at this site. Stone sculptures, coins, an inscription, pottery pieces and other antiquities collected from surface exploration are sufficient to prove its archaeological relevance,” it adds.
Currently, the Ther Mound has more than 3,000 houses with a population of nearly 20,000.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2007 and the court gave its verdict against the Ther Mound residents.
“The court had ordered the government to vacate Ther Mound site but no previous government cared a bit for the people,” Chopra pointed out.
“The matter of Ther Mound came to the notice of the BJP government after its formation. Since the time to file an appeal had passed, the government constituted a committee comprising members from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), archaeology department of Haryana and archaeology department of the Kurukshetra University,” Chopra said.
“The committee submitted its report to the government. The committee unanimously accepted that many people resided on the Ther Mound and a small area is left which cannot be utilised for the purpose of archaeological excavations,” he added.
At a recent meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, it was decided that it would be impossible to utilise the land for archaeological purposes and that the land should be de-notified after informing the ASI.
By Jaideep Sarin
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org