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Four arrested for damaging Buddhist-era statue

By Javed Aziz Khan & Muslim Sabir
July 19, 2020

PESHAWAR/TAKHT BHAI: The police on Saturday arrested four persons on the charges of smashing an antique giant Buddhist-era statue in Mardan district.

The video of smashing of the statue went viral on social media after which the authorities ordered the action. In the video, one person could be seen smashing the statue while others are witnessing it in Jamal Bagh area in the limits Sarho Shah Police Station in Mardan.

Hundreds took to Twitter to express anger over the act, saying these statues were part of our history and needed to be preserved. “We located the area after we got the video. The incident happened during construction of a water channel in Jamal Bagh area of Sarho Shah.

All those involved in smashing the statue were arrested,” District Police Officer, Mardan, Dr Zahidullah Jan told The News. A case was registered against the accused under various sections of the Antiquity Act 2016. The DPO said the smashed pieces of the statue were taken into custody. Kamran Bangash, spokesman for the KP government, also confirmed that all the offenders were arrested. “All the offenders, who were seen smashing an antique Gandharan Buddhist statue in Mardan, have been arrested by KP Police and an FIR lodged against them under sections of the Antiquity Act 2016,” said Bangash. The arrested people were identified as Qamar Zaman, Amjad, Aleem and Suleman.

The incident is said to have happened a few days back while the video was leaked the other day after which the police and officials of other departments took the action. “Action will be taken as per law. It’s unfortunate.

Action, however, cannot be taken for pure ignorance of cultural values and respect for beliefs of other religions,” stated Abid Majeed, Secretary Sports, Tourism and Culture after the video went viral. Takht Bhai is considered the hub of the Buddhist ruins in this region. The Unesco declared the Takht Bhai ruins a world heritage site in 1980. The archeologists have repeated sought measures to prevent vandalism and create awareness among the people about the importance of the Takht Bhai ruins dating back to 2nd century BC.