Nitish Rails against Archaeology Society of India at Nalanda Function

Nitish Kumar and President Ramnath Kovind inaugurating the 4th International Dhamma-Dharma Conference at the International Convention Center in Rajgir on Thursday.

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Patna: Chief minister Nitish Kumar, while inaugurating the 4th International Dhamma-Dharma Conference at the International Convention Centre in Rajgir on Thursday, expressed his frustration with the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) saying they just don't listen or do what they are required to do.

Kumar, in the presence of a number of dignitaries, including Indian President and former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, External Affairs Secretary Preeti Saran, and Nalanda University Vice Chancellor Sunaina Singh, said that despite repeated requests, the ASI would not look into the excavation at Telhara in Nalanda district where remains of an ancient university were unearthed.

"When they (ASI) failed to make a move, we hired experts to do the excavation work on our own," Kumar lamented adding Telhara could be as old as 5th century BC.

The Chief Minister who fancies himself as an amateur archaeologist with an eye on old relics, as was the case on December 29 when he stumbled upon a mound in Sheikhpura district with pieces of ceramic pots dating back to, by some estimate, 1000 BC, continued his harangue against the ASI saying it was besieged by red tape and was lost in the pile of papers before it would even consider taking up a new archaeological finding.

What prompted Kumar's tirade is not certain but sources said the Chief Minister was basically making a back-handed appeal to the President of India for his intervention in sending ASI sleuths to Bihar to dig deep into the Telhara and Sheikhpura findings.

"If they have problems doing excavation work in Bihar, we would like to get it done on our own," he said.

Scholars from a number of Asian and European nations are taking part in the three-day conclave.

Speaking on the occasion, President Kovind recalled his tenure as Bihar Governor and his visits to Nalanda and other historical sites of the state. He also touted Buddhism as an early form of 'globalization' because of its fast spread in other Asian countries.

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