Press Trust of india

India asks Pakistan to protect cultural heritage of minorities

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New Delhi: India has expressed its concerns to Pakistan over a Buddha statue being smashed into pieces with a sledgehammer in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, and asked Islamabad to ensure the protection of the cultural heritage of minorities.

A rare life-sized statue of Buddha was smashed into pieces with a sledgehammer by construction workers in Mardan district of the Pakistani province. The statue belonged to the Gandhara civilisation and was nearly 1,700 years old, a senior Pakistani official had said.

Four persons were arrested on Saturday for vandalising the statue that was discovered during excavation at an agriculture farm. The suspects had followed the orders of a local Maulvi (prayer leader).

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said it was an incident of July 18 in Mardan district where during the excavation of one of the houses, a Gandhara-style Buddha statue was found.

“What we understand is four Pakistani citizens at the behest of a religious cleric, who told them that their faith will be renounced if they don’t dismantle that statue, broke that statue with a sledgehammer,” he said.

This has been widely condemned, including by the monks in Gaya city, Srivastava said.

There is also widespread concern expressed by a cross-section of people in our country, he said.

“We have expressed our concerns to Pakistan. We have conveyed our expectation that they would ensure the safety, security and well-being of the minority community there, as well as protect their cultural heritage,” he said.

Director of Archeology and Museums in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Abdus Samad Khan had said on Sunday that the pieces of the destroyed statue have been recovered to assess its archaeological value.

The director said that the statue belonged to the Gandhara civilisation and was approximately 1,700 years old.

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