GCU offers to adopt Woolner's statue

LAHORE, May 2(Daily Times): The Government College University (GCU) on Tuesday offered the city government and Punjab University (PU) to look after the 'neglected' statue of Alfred Woolner on The Mall.

Unidentified people threw paint on the statue outside the PU Old Campus three months ago. The PU administration, city government and the Archaeology Department held each other responsible for the statue's restoration.

Nazim Amer Mehmood said that GCU should restore the statue without relocating it. However, a PU official said that GCU should not touch the statue.

GCU vice chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Aftab expressed his concern over the neglect of the statute. Woolner was the professor of Sanskrit and a PU vice chancellor from 1928 to 1936.

"The statue is a source of inspiration for me because the man was the one who set up the Pharmacy Department to spread modern knowledge," Dr Aftab said.

"The GCU administration wants to 'adopt' the statue, but only if the PU administration and city government allows us to take the statue to the GCU building."

He said GCU had a tradition of preserving old artefacts, buildings and cultural heritage. People can see how the veranda arches of an old building made of Agra red stone of 1920 vintage have been relocated, conserved and displayed on the lawn facing the Oval Ground.

"Woolner's statute has a great historical significance. Not only because it is old, but it is a symbol of the beginning of Western education in the northern India," he added.

"The Punjab University was set up in 1882 by Dr GW Leitner, who was also the first principal of Government College Lahore. It means that GCU has an association with the PU," he said.

Amer Mehmood said it was clear that the PU administration was neglecting the statue because the paint thrown on it about three months ago had not been removed yet. "GCU can take over the statue but it should not be relocated," he added.

PU registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan said the statue was not only part of the PU building, but it was also the legacy of Lahoris. "GCU does not have any legal or moral claim to it. They should mind their business," he added.

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