Author P K Mishra exposes the “blatant theft of the credit for discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization” by John Marshall from Rakhal Das Banerji

Author P K Mishra exposes the "blatant theft of the credit for discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization" by John Marshall from Rakhal Das Banerji

KOLKATA,June12: In a new book, ‘Rakhal Das Banerji: The Forgotten Archaeologist’, author P K Mishra has explored the “blatant theft of the credit for discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization”. Mishra also delivered a lecture at the Indian Museum on the topic.

“The accused is John Marshall, whose contribution to Indian archaeology is immense. He was the longest serving director-general of Archaeological Survey of India from 1902 to 1928,” Mishra told TOI.

“The first report on the discovery of Mohenjo Daro, submitted by Banerji in 1920, was suppressed by Marshall. So were the subsequent reports and the final one in 1922 which Marshall edited and used as the basis of `Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization’ -a monumental volume,” he added.

“It was a blatant theft of intellectual property right, hard earned by a young Indian archaeologist, by his boss,” Mishra said. Records say during 1918-22, Banerji carried out a five-season excavation at Mohenjo Daro. “The world knows Marshall discovered the civilization’s ruins and it is taught in institutions. Banerji is an insignificant footnote,” he pointed out.

“Marshall did not know much about Mohenjo Daro till May 1924. He first visited the site only in February 1925. Marshall took direct charge of the excavation from winter 1925-26. By that time, Banerji had done all the work a discoverer should have done,” said Mishra.

Banerji had written to Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, another intellectual icon of the time -“See, they (the British government) will not allow me to publish anything on Mohenjo Daro. But you can write something. I am handing over to you all the material I have and all photographs. You just write something on it and publish my interpretations. This may be a record for future generation,” Mishra’s book reveals.

Banerji’s brilliance was re cognised by British officers when he joined ASI in 1917 as a 19-year-old. He not only became a blue-eyed boy to Marshall, he was elevated to the post of supe rintendent of archaeology of Pune Division in 1922. But the final report of the discovery of Mohenjo Daro changed the colour of this bonhomie. Marshall turned hostile. Banerji was shunted out to Indian Museum.