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More relics, artefacts seized in police raid

July 08, 2012

KARACHI, July 7: Police on Saturday seized more Gandhara civilisation artefacts and relics hidden in a godown in Korangi and officials said one of them could be the ‘biggest and tallest’ sculpture ever found in the country.

According to an official, police raided a residential-cum-commercial building in Korangi on the basis of initial findings of an investigation conducted on Friday after a large number of artefacts were seized during search of a trailer-mounted container. Police had also arrested two people.

“The arrested persons informed the police about the presence of more such relics in Korangi,” Karachi East DIG Shahid Hayat told Dawn. “There are a number of sculptures and artefacts but two wooden boxes contain giant structures that we and archeology experts believe are of a size not found before.”

Mr Hayat said the artefacts were so huge that a crane had to be pressed into service to move them to the Awami Colony police station where other sculptures were kept. However, no more arrest was made.

He said investigators were searching for the consignee and connecting dots to reach the people behind the lucrative illegal business.

“Our findings suggest it’s highly likely that there will be more recoveries linked with this racket in the days to come in Karachi or maybe in other parts of the country.”

On Saturday, the two suspects were remanded to police custody by a judicial magistrate till July 11. Trailer driver Zafar and cleaner Asif Majeed were arrested for allegedly transporting a large number of ancient artefacts and relics.

The suspects were presented before the judicial magistrate (East) and the investigating officer said efforts to apprehend absconding accused Atif and Asif were under way.

Magistrate Aleem Ahmed told the investigating officer to produce the two suspects along with a progress report on the next hearing of case. The suspects were booked at the Awami Colony police station under Sections 26, 27, 29, 32 and 34 of the Antiquities Act.

An inventory of over 215 artefacts was being prepared, a Sindh Culture Department (SCD) official said, adding there were several huge boxes of relics that were yet to be opened.

Talking to Dawn, SCD official Mohammad Shah Bokhari said a 95-inch-tall and 70-inch-wide sculpture showed Buddha in meditation on a lotus flower with devotees around him.

He said there were two eight-foot Buddhas among the sculptures.

SCD Director Qasim Ali Qasim said he would reinforce the team tasked with making the inventory of relics and offered to join the investigation to find out from where the artefacts had been dug out, why they had been brought to Karachi and why they were being sent to Rawalpindi or Sialkot.