FOUR persons have been arrested in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province for vandalising a rare statue of Gautam Buddha discovered during excavation at an agriculture farm, police said on Saturday. 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.
The arrests were made after a video showing people damaging the statue with hammers went viral on social media. 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.