Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) cancelled the excavation licence for PAMA, a dubious NGO, at Pattanam through an order (No T – 17011/ 41/2019- EE ) issued on September 3, 2021 by M Nambirajan, Joint Director General (Exploration and Excavation). On the order, Nambirajan has cleverly left out PAMA’s name and instead put the name Institute for the Advancement of Transdisciplinary Archaeological Sciences to help P J Cherian secure an easy court verdict, once he approaches the court against the ASI order.
In a bid to help Cherian’s cause, Nambirajan has declined to include in his order, even one of the serious allegations raised by several organisations in the context of Pattanam excavations. He did so to help PAMA to have a clean chit and secure a favourable court verdict.
There are many reasons for Nambirajan to bring out such a convenient and beneficial order cancelling the Pattanam excavations, which is helpful for PAMA. One who looks at the order shall not find any serious allegation that is strong enough to terminate the excavations by PAMA at Pattanam. Even if Cherian goes to court, the judge can hardly identify any serious lapse to have occurred on the part of PAMA for the ASI to take such a strong stand cancelling its licence to excavate Pattanam.
The association of Nambirajan and Cherian has a history of more than twelve years. Nambirajan was a Member of the Muziris Heritage Project (Pattanam Excavations 2008) of KCHR. It has Prof K N Panikkar, former Chairman, KCHR and Dr V Venu, Secretary, Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala Vice- Chairman. Dr Nambirajan, was then Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Thrissur Circle, Kerala. He was designated ‘Member’ in the handbook of Pattanam Archaeological Research March-April 2008, published by KCHR.
Nambirajan and Cherian have jointly published many papers on the dubious Pattanam site which has been severely criticised by reputed archaeologists. For instance, one paper published by Cherian, Nambirajan, V Selvakumar, K P Shajan, and P Rajan, in 2010 is titled Pattanam Excavations: Interim Reports, published by KCHR, Thiruvananthapuram. Another paper is Pattanam Excavations 2011 (Fifth Season Field Report) also published by KCHR in Thiruvananthapuram. The title of the paper is The maritime spice route that linked peninsular India with West Asia, Red Sea and Mediterranean rims; new archaeological evidence from Pattanam (Muziris).It is jointly authored by P J Cherian, K P Shajan, V Selvakumar, M Nambirajan, K Rajan and Preeta Nayar.
When serious allegations were launched earlier against Pattanam, the ASI intervened in 2015 and terminated Pattanam excavation license to KCHR. According to then ASI Joint Director General R S Fonia, the digging has been going on for over seven years now, but no report was filed. So no fresh permission can be granted (Doubting Thomases Suspend Saint Project in The Telegraph (October 1, 2015).
In 2016, the licence of 20 NGOs in Kerala was suspended by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which included the KCHR which then conducted the Pattanam excavations (MHA Shows no Charity, Cuts License of around 20 NGOs in The New Indian Express on December 8, 2016).
The 45th Executive Council Meeting of KCHR held on February 3, 2020, states that on December 28, 2019, former Director P J Cherian who launched an NGO, PAMA, informed KCHR that the ASI has granted a license for him to excavated Pattanam in Ernakulam and Mathilakam in Thrissur districts. How did the ASI which cancelled the license for KCHR to excavate Pattanam due to serious allegations, again within 4 years grant a license to re excavating the site?
It was the presence of Professor K Rajan in the ASI Advisory Council that enabled Cherian to secure a license to re excavate Pattanam using his NGO PAMA. The document, Pattanam Excavations-2008: Muziris Heritage Project, published by KCHR reveals that Prof K Rajan was co-director of the Pattanam Excavations.
Another association of PAMA is secured from Dr Preetha Nayar of Kerala University Archaeology department. The New Indian Express (July 22, 2012 ) reported that Preetha Nayar who was an academic coordinator in KCHR has received an excess amount of Rs 3.22 lakh, according to the Accountant-General audit report of 2010-11. Although Cherian said the AG dropped the objections, sources in the AG’s office said that the objections still remain as such. “It is not true that the objections have been dropped after the KCHR gave an explanation, as reported by The New Indian Express.
Pattanam is currently linked with Keezhadi archaeological site in Tamil Nadu, as claimed by Cherian himself (Deccan Chronicle, October 31, 2018). Keezhadi is virtually controlled by Father Gasper Raj with LTTE terrorist links and supports Dravidian secessionist movements in Tamil Nadu. He is also involved in multiple activities in support of LTTE, a Sri Lankan group designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. (Douglas C. Lovelace Jr., Esq., 2008, Terrorism: Documents of International and Local Control, Academic, OUP, Vol. 91).
Gaspar Raj is actively associated with S P Udayakumar, Coordinator of the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), who led protests against the commissioning of the Indo-Russian Nuclear Power Plant at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu (Kudankulam protesters disallow PM Manmohan Singh’s envoy to speak, The Economic Times, Sept. 21., 2011).
The Pattanam site is associated with George Soros, a multi-billionaire leftist who openly supports the Kashmir secessionists against India. (George Soros laments rising nationalism, says biggest setback in India, in The Times of India, January 25, 2020). The Central European University founded by Soros launched its ambitious plan in Kerala in collaboration with KCHR under a Left Government. Prof. Istvan Perczel from Central European University is a scholar on Byzantine history and Medieval Christianity, and one of the patrons of Pattanam excavations in Kerala. Perczel was honoured with Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, Kerala, by the Left Government in Kerala.
Discarding serious allegations against PAMA, M Nambirajan has given a safe order terminating the excavations, but which helps P J Cherian approach the court for a beneficial verdict.