Udayavni Special

Four persons arrested for vandalizing rare Buddha statue in Pak

PTI, Jul 19, 2020, 4:17 PM IST

Four persons have been arrested in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province for vandalizing a rare statue of Gautam Buddha discovered during excavation at an agriculture farm, police said on Saturday, July 18.

“The statue that was discovered in tehsil Takhtbai of Mardan district was destroyed on the orders of a local Maulvi (prayer leader),” local residents said.

“Four suspects have been arrested and an FIR under the antiquity act has been filed,” police said.

District Police Officer Zahidullah said the incident took place when a water line was dug up and construction workers discovered the statue.

“We have arrested contractor Qamar Zaman and his workers, Amjad, Aleem, and Saleem for smashing the Buddha statue and have also recovered some of its pieces from them,” he said.

The arrests were made after a video showing people damaging the statue with hammers went viral on social media.

A senior officer of the Tourism Department said after the video surfaced the authorities reported the matter to the police for action against the culprits.

Takhtbai area is a tourist destination for people from Sri Lanka, Korea, and Japan since it was a part of the Gandhara Civilisation – one of the earliest urban settlements documented in the history of the subcontinent.

Director of Archaeology Department Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Abdul Samad Khan expressed anguish over the incident and assured that proper action would be taken against the culprits involved in damaging the rare statue.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s old name is Ghandhara and the region is a highly revered place for the followers of Buddhism.

In 2017, two rare and ancient Buddha statues were unearthed at an archeological site in Bhamala in Hariput district. The largest ever statue found at the site depicts the death of Buddha and the second statue was a Buddha with a double halo.

The statue depicting the death scenario was the oldest of its kind in the world. It was also verified by the American laboratory which identified it as older than third century BC.

Peshawar Museum is also known for displaying one of the world’s largest collection of architectural pieces on Buddha.

A couple of years ago, the museum’s tallest statue of Buddha in schist stone was transported to Switzerland for display there for 100 days at an international exhibition.

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