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Srinagar, May 14 (UNI) The Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL) today launched a new mission to catalogue and preserve rare manuscripts of all the regions of the state to save valuable cultural inheritance.

This is for the first time the JKAACL has decided to collect data on manuscripts housed in a variety of places, including shrines, temples, mattas, madrassas, monasteries and private collections.

Secretary of JKAACL Zaffar Iqbal Manhas said it was a prestigious project to cataloge state's ancient documentary wealth and ensure that basic conservation practices are followed to halt their rapid decay.

The main objective of the project was the digitalisation, microfilming and cataloguing of Jammu and Kashmir manuscripts by using latest available technology at global level, he added.

He said we have the largest repository of manuscripts in Northern India, with an estimated 20 thousand texts in dozens of languages.

He said the academy will involve writers and religious scholars in the hunt for ancient volumes in order to use it not only to expertise but also for social skills, coazing and cultural sensitivity to gain access to wonderful manuscripts.

Mr Zaffar said, ''We have 5000 year history at our back that is why a set of sixth century Buddhist texts, the oldest manuscripts that India possesses were found buried in the hills of Kashmir about 60 years ago.'' Our researchers have found rare ancient Sanskrit, Tibetan, Arabic and Persian treatises on such subjects as diabetes, astrophysics, interpretation of dreams, surgical instruments, concepts of time and art of war he said, adding we want to catalogue and preserve.

He said we would promote and facilitate research and scholarship based on Manuscripts and the wealth of knowledge that lies therein.

He said under the mission we would enhance the access to the manuscripts, improve awareness about cultural inheritance and encourage the use of manuscripts for educational and research purposes lifelong learning and also provide conservation and preservation of manuscripts through training, awareness and financial support.

We are going to document and catalogue manuscripts, maintain accurate and up-to-date information about them and the conditions under which they may be consulted to promote ready access to these manuscripts through publication, both in book form as well as machine readable form, he added.

Mr Zafar said the academy has its manuscripts library at Srinagar which has about 700 rare manuscripts on history, music, medicine, religion, astronomy, and other subjects. He said some of them are more then thousand-year-old written in birch barek.

To preserve and conserve such rare manuscripts there are state of the art scientific laboratory and fumigation chambers for their maintenance.

We have specially designed fire proof chambers and locker for their safety, he said.

He impressed upon private collectors, shrines, temples, matthas, madrasas, and monasteries to register their manuscripts with the Academy. We will provide free consultations and work for the preservation of such manuscripts.

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