GUWAHATI, Jan 5 - A controversy has arisen over the bid to auction an approximately 400-year-old golden hookah belonging to the Gauripur Rajbari in Dhubri district. While representatives of the Gauripur Rajbari maintain that the antique value of the item is yet to be established, the State Directorate of Archaeology says that the object has an antique value and was donated by a Mughal emperor to Koch king Parikshit Narayan, which later came to the Gauripur Rajbari, because of its connections with the Koch kingdom.
It needs mention here that following protracted court cases, the Royal family of Gauripur has now been able to arrange for the auction of the golden hookah. According to the State Archaeology Directorate�s Deputy Director Ranjana Sarma, the object is estimated to be worth around Rs 21 crore. It weighs around one-and-a-half kilogram and is decorated with nine varieties of precious jewels, including diamonds, she said.
She informed this correspondent that the Directorate has already sent a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Dhubri (Letter No ARCH.261/Dhubri/2015-16/1048. Dt 23/12/2015) in this connection, with intimation to the State�s Commissioner and Secretary, Cultural Affairs and the Director (Antiquity), Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi. All of them have taken the matter seriously, Sarma said.
She further informed that as per the provisions of The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, not a single antiquity could be sold out without its registration. This has been stated unambiguously in clause (1),(2),(3), (4) and (5) of the Act. After registration only, the registered art object can be sold to parties within the country. The purchaser of that object is also bound to register the object with the appropriate authorities to substantiate its claim of a legal owner of the object, Sarma, who is also the Registering Officer of such objects in the State, said.
When contacted, Prabir Barua, a scion of the Gauripur royal family, told this correspondent that after the acquisition of the Gauripur Estate by the State Government, Jamuna Barua, the second wife of renowned filmmaker Pramathesh Barua, the eldest son of Raja Prabhat Chandra Barua of Gauripur, moved the court in the 1960s and the court appointed a receiver and a referee to effect a partition of the movable and immovable property of the Rajbari and to take care of them.
Now, after arduous efforts of around 60 years, the family members have been able to convince the Calcutta High Court to open the hookah for auction. The object is at the least worth around Rs 2 crore. By this time, the economic condition of most of the members of the Gauripur royal family has become deplorable and they are highly indebted. Some of them even don�t have the money to spend on their medical treatment.
)Raja Prabhat Chandra Barua had three sons � Pramathesh, Prakritish and Pranabesh and two daughters� Niharbala and Nilima Barua. Now the total number of the members of this family has shot up to 35, said Prabir Barua, a son of Prakritish Barua.