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July 1, 2011

KP land grabbers take over 2,000-year old Swabi site

Business

July 1, 2011

PESHAWAR: The land mafia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has grabbed a 2,000-year old archaeological site in Swabi and the old owner, who lives in Sweden, is desperately trying to stop them from destroying the site.
A known Pakistani educationist has sent an urgent message from Sweden regarding the threat by the land mafia to the important Hindu Shahi-era archaeological site on his property in Galla village in Swabi district.
Dr Mohammad Nazeer, who served as head of the mathematics department at the University of Peshawar, phoned The News from the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to register his complaint.
“I have been told that for the last four days members of a “qabza group” have brought a bulldozer to work on my land. They would start demolishing the tall walls of the archaeological mound in my property if not stopped. This fort-like structure is precious as it dates back 2,000 years to the Hindu Shahi kingdom,” he explained.
Dr Nazeer said he just had surgery of his hernia and was unable to travel to Pakistan to try and save this archaeological treasure. “This is an SOS from me to the authorities to protect the site. They must act quickly if it has to be saved,” he stressed.
He said he had made up his mind to donate the land containing the archaeological site to the government, but it was delayed due to various reasons including the fact that he now lives in Sweden on account of his illness.
Dr Shah Nazar Khan, an associate professor at the Department of Archaeology, University of Peshawar, confirmed that the archaeological site at Galla village was rare and important as it belonged to the Hindu Shahi period.
“We have only one other Hindu Shahi period archaeological site and that is also in Swabi district at Hund village located on the banks of river Indus,” he pointed out.
Dr Shah Nazar, who is presently in the United Kingdom, told The News that he surveyed the archaeological site at Galla in 2003. “It is a fort-like

structure and at one point the wall was fourteen and a half feet tall. The late world renowned archaeologist Dr Ahmed Hasan Dani also mentioned it in his writings,” he recalled.
He added that dispute over the ownership of the land delayed handing over the site to the archaeology department.
The article by Dr Shah Nazar on the archaeological site at Galla was published in the “Ancient Pakistan” magazine published by the Archaeology Department, University of Peshawar, in its 11th issue under the title, Swabi Survey.
Mukhtiar Durrani, who runs a non-governmental organization, National Heritage Foundation and is nephew of the late archaeologist Dr Farzand Ali Durrani, said illegal excavation and dispute over the ownership of the land were big threats to the archaeological site in Galla.

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