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Gandhara relic stolen from police station

Published Jul 20, 2012 08:01pm


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The Gandhara civilization’s remains are located in the Peshawar valley, and in some parts of Eastern Afghanistan. Texila was the main centre of the Gandhara civilization. – File photo by AFP
The Gandhara civilization’s remains are located in the Peshawar valley, and in some parts of Eastern Afghanistan. Texila was the main centre of the Gandhara civilization. – File photo by AFP

KARACHI, July 20: The illegally excavated Gandhara-era artefacts recovered by police in Karachi on July 6 are dumped in a compound of a police station in Landhi and so carelessly guarded that anyone can easily walk away with them.

A man who approached this reporter on Friday and wished to remain anonymous was able to remove — unnoticed and unchecked — the head of a statue from among the large number of 2,000-year-old relics.

He allowed the piece to be photographed but took it away with him, saying he could have removed other artefacts as well if they had not been too heavy for him to carry.

The head, part of a large statue of the Buddha made of heavy stone, had broken off when police failed to handle the item safely and was lying among other broken pieces when it was easily lifted and taken away. No one was present to ask any questions.

“Yes, it’s possible,” replied Qasim Ali Qasim, director of the Sindh archaeology department when informed that a piece of a statue had been removed from the police station.

He said the department had prepared an inventory that listed 395 artefacts.

“We have photographed them as well and when we take possession we will hold police responsible for any missing item.”

Mr Qasim did not appear to be satisfied with arrangements at the police station.

He said untrained people had been handling and examining the items which were lying in the open.

The Buddhist relics were discovered and seized by police earlier this month when they were searching a suspicious container mounted on a trailer in Landhi.

On further investigation and after the arrested driver and cleaner of the trailer provided information more relics were found in a godown in Korangi.

They were moved to the Awami Colony police station where, according to our visitor, they were lying haphazardly out in the open.

While unloading the pieces, police threw them down from containers from a considerable height. It was only after the intervention of some officials that two mechanical lifters were used.

There are reports that three statues have gone missing from the police station, but there has been no official confirmation.

As far as the authenticity of the relics is concerned, Mr Qasim explained that they could not be examined at the police station.

“We don’t have many working hands,” he said, adding that the antiquities can only be examined once handed over to a museum.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had said it would be sending a team to examine the artefacts, while some experts were being commissioned by the Sindh government to assess their authenticity.

So far nothing has emerged about the findings of either province.


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Comments (12) Closed

Shivam Jul 21, 2012 02:45pm
Ancient monuments and art effects to whichever religion they belong are the part of heritage of that country and symbolise the great culture of their ancestors. So it is the duty of everybody to preserve these articles as we preserve our family members. In India, we preserve all the monuments and art effects of historic value as most precious whether they belong to hindu, muslim, sikh, christian, jain, budhist, parsi or any other religion and consider them as gifts to the modern society from our ancestors. So we should not destroy these articles rather we should do our best to preserve them for our next generations. Without culture a country is like an empty pot. I appreciate the efforts of Archaeology Department of Pakistan. ____Shivam
Insaan Jul 22, 2012 01:57pm
These archaeological artifacts should be processed to include research, evaluation, record keeping along with photographs, and finally auctioned to international bidders in order to raise money for education, healthcare, food, and other civic amenities for the poor in Pakistan.
Nayeem Jul 21, 2012 03:23pm
Such apathy towards its own cultural heritage!!What can you expect from a country which believes its history started from 1206 A.D...
Ali Jul 21, 2012 04:21pm
Either the police is thief itself or incompetent. I wonder why taxpayer money is paid to a department which is incompetent, aids criminals and absolutely corrupt. I feel that the crime rate can be reduced a lot if the country has no police department.
Cyrus Howell Jul 21, 2012 04:23pm
Obviously the police stole it. Who else has access to a police station?
raika45 Jul 21, 2012 12:38pm
If this is how you respect statues of other religions,how do you expect the world at large to show any respect to your country? As it is your country way down in the world's opinion, your behavior is not getting you any plus points.Islam may be your religion,but remember there are other religions both in your country and the world.This is shocking behavior.
HWG Jul 22, 2012 10:51am
They should hand them over to Archeological Survey of India who can preserve them better. Gandhar period history is important to India. If Pak does not care about it, India does. Many characters from ancient Indian texts like Mahabharata are from Gandhar. Sanskrit Grammerian Panini was supposed to have been from this region. India likes to preserve the history of the region - whether Vedic, Harappan, Hindu, Buddhist or Mughal.
Dr. J.P. Sinha Jul 21, 2012 08:11pm
Don't forget the mullahs and religious fanatics who encourage the theft and destruction of such precious and historically and culturally invaluable pieces of art without which Pakistan would not have any evidence of an ancient civilization that lies quietly buried because religious bigotry wants to destroy evidence of a civilization other than the present brutal religious system you have in your country. I am a Japanese Buddhist with strong leanings towards Hinduism, and -- like millions of people elsewhere in the world -- I am simply appaled by your callous attitude to the theft and destruction of such invaluable objects. I hope there are decent, educated people in Pakistan who understand and appreciate such art and objects of a rich bygone civilization with Indus roots. Failing that, I am afraid, we would see the dark age descend on Pakistan.
Solitar Jul 22, 2012 03:28pm
Dear Pakistan my motherland I really love you for you fashioned me in your womb, brought me up, educated me and took good care of me like an exemplary mother. I wonder why your offspring is treating you like a stepmother. Why have your offspring forsaken you? Why do not they think that they could not go on without you? I extremely feel sorry for you for having been treated in such a disgraceful manner. I often question myself where has gone their love and respect for you? Your offspring is grown up now. It’s time for her to give you the same love, protection, respect against any action that brings shame and disgrace to you. I apologize to you for everything that we collectively did to earn you bad name. I am well acquainted with the view that the paradise lies under your feet. I beg you to pray for your children to be converted and aware of their duty to provide you with all that you need to go on and make you feel proud by expressing their love for you and your dowry (items) which is very dear to you like any Eastern woman on this planet!
Pakistani Jul 22, 2012 09:02am
I think there is lack of knowledge and offcourse negligence... I cannot say bad words but Govt should educate atleast to our government employees ....
Iqbal Hussain Jul 23, 2012 04:07am
Dear Sir, U R right, Mullas and Moulvis, they do not like STATUES, what do they know about our heritage, culture and history. This is not the question of Hinduism, this is the treasure of our ancient history but how can u make these Mullas and Moulvis understand who themselves are illitrate and uneducated.I feel, Govt of Japan or Italy should come forward and get the possession of these treasure and fix it, repair it and SAVE it. Govt in Pakistan has no time to do all these, they are busy in looting and plundering the country and the police dept has all un-educated, fanatic muslims who does not know A from B. Pakistan is a failed state better Japan or Italy take control of the situation. Iqbal Hussain.(USA).
prkshah Jul 23, 2012 06:28am
The world of Islam starts from 7th century. The rest does not matter to them. One can see Hindu, Jain, Buddhist’s and other religions do not matter and their artifacts were destroyed. It evident in India at quite no of places. They burned Nalanda University in Bihar which was founded in 5th century AD, the oldest university on planet. All medical books and knowledge was destroyed. So these statues are insignificant.