HARIPUR: The police have arrested three persons for illegal digging at an archaeological site in Gudwalian village here, an official of archaeology and museums, Hazara, said.

The police recovered three coins and a spoon of some Islamic era dating back to 500 years from the possession of the persons, Mr Nawazuddin said, adding after receiving information that some villagers were engaged in illegal digging at an archaeological site in the village, they informed the police.

He said the Kotnajibullah police raided houses of three suspects and arrested them, including Sardar Ali, Mohammad Ashraf and Javed Khan. He added the police recovered three rusted coins, a spoon and a metal detector from them.

The police have registered a case against the men under sections 18, 62, 67 and 69 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities Act, 2016.

According to Nawazuddin, the recovered coins and spoon were 400-500 years old, saying, however, that exact period of artifacts would be determined.

He said the Gudwalian archaeological site was one of the 214 registered sites of Haripur. He said deploying watchmen at these sites was not financially feasible for the department. He said since it was the national heritage, protecting such sites was responsibility of area people.

Earlier, on January 12 this year, the archaeology department officials had raided a house in Sultanpur village in Khanpur tehsil and arrested a man, identified as Masroor Shah, and recovered a Buddha statue from his possession.

The man and the statue were handed over to Khanpur police and a case was registered against him.

The one-square-foot statue, according to officials, was in its genuine condition, which the man had stolen during illegal digging in some area of Khanpur or bordering Taxila valley, and wanted to smuggle it to Punjab for onward transportation to some foreign country for better market value.

Mr Nawazuddin said the historical analysis of the statue showed that the Buddha was in a meditating position, and it was 1800-2000 years old.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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