Jammu : A fossil of an elephant lying in the geology department of Jammu University has triggered a contest as to who owns it and ignited regional passions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The tempers have risen so high that students of Jammu University have declared they would not allow the fossil to be relocated to the Kashmir Valley until all the rare manuscripts and artefacts of Jammu, currently in Srinagar, are not restored to Jammu.
"It has to be quid pro quo," said Rajinder Singh Jamwal, a student leader of Jammu. "Let them take fossil but first they will have to return our artefacts and rare manuscripts belonging to Dogra rule."
Kashmir students, on the other hand, have made it a matter of prestige. They are asking the government to get the fossil back at any cost.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has asked Kashmir University to get back the fossil, and Jammu University has agreed to transport it back o the Valley.
"We have passed on instructions for the transportation of fossil back to Kashmir University," said Jammu University Vice Chancellor Amitabh Mattoo.
But the university students are agitated and they have threatened an agitation if the fossil, that was bought to Jammu from a south Kashmir township of Pampore in January this year. The fossil had surfaced during excavation work for the new railway lines near Pampore town of Kashmir Valley in 2002.
G.M. Bhat, a professor in Jammu University, had claimed that the fossil dates back to more than 5,000 years ago and it would help in research.
"It is an asset for all the researchers," Bhat, a Kashmiri himself, said.
He told reporters that the idea is to get experts and get the research done here (Jammu). He is deeply hurt that a genuine research project has mired into a huge controversy. "It should not have happened," Bhat said.