The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police have arrested offenders involved in smashing an antique Gandharan Buddha statue in Mardan, Adviser to KP Chief Minister on Information and Public Relations Kamran Khan Bangash has said.
In a Twitter update, the CM’s aide also said that an FIR has been lodged against the culprits under the Antiquities Act. Under the Act, demolition of archaeological sites is illegal.
The ruling party’s official Twitter handle also shared the update and said that the remaining parts of the Buddha have been recovered by the Mardan Police.
According to reports, the statue was discovered by locals while construction work was being done in a village near Takht-i-Bahi Tehsil in Mardan District. Situated 80km from the provincial capital Peshawar, Takht-i-Bahi is an important site for Buddhist archaeological remains dating back nearly 2,000 years.
In a video, which is being widely circulated on social media, several men are seen smashing the Buddha with a sledgehammer and congratulating each other for doing so.
Preliminary reports suggested that the locals smashed the Buddha at the behest of a local maulvi sahab who advised them to smash the statue or else they would lose their imaan (faith) and their nikkah would become invalid. However, Director Archeology Dr Abdul Samad Khan has said that the Buddha was broken due to lack of knowledge.
Dr Samad added that the statue belonged to the Gandhara civilisation and was approximately 1,700 years old.
Meanwhile, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry condemned the act.
Actor Ali Rehman Khan also expressed his outrage at the incident.