In yet another shocking incident, a recently discovered Buddha statue was smashed into pieces by local construction workers and a Muslim cleric on Saturday in Pakistan. The relic was discovered while digging the foundation for a house in the Pashtun-dominated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Mardan district in Pakistan.
A video of the act, which has since gone viral on social media, showed the construction workers, along with a Muslim cleric, smashing the Buddha statue using a sledgehammer. They are seen walking over and destroying the life-sized Buddha status while expressing their acrimony against Buddhism, which they consider anti-Islam.
According to reports, the statue was destroyed on the order of a local Muslim cleric, who ruled that it is against Islam. ‘Your nikah would cease to exist and you will no more be a believer if the statue isn’t disposed of’, the cleric told the people at the site, who then followed his orders to destroy the priceless relic, which was accidentally discovered in a good condition.
Local media quoted Abdul Samad, director of the archaeology and museums, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as saying that he authorities have located the area, where the incident occurred and those involved in vandalism would be held accountable. “We have located the area and we will have those involved arrested soon,” he said.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the case. Initially the police were slow to react to the incident. But when the video emerged on social media and a large number of people criticised the action, the police swung into action and made the arrests.
Takht Bhai was once the homeland for Buddhism
The area from where the relic was discovered is known as the Takht Bhai area, in Mardan district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Takht Bhai is a part of the Gandhara civilisation, where Buddhism thrived until the 8th or 9th centuries when Islam first began to gain sway in the region. Since 1836, when it was first excavated, archaeologists have dug out hundreds of relics made of clay, stucco, and terracotta in the area. Due to its historical and religious significance, it is a popular destination for Buddhist tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan, Korea etc. The Buddhist monastery is included in the World Heritage List.
Similar incident in Pakistan
Last month, in a similar incident, the ancient Buddhist rock carvings in the Chilas area of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK)’s Gilgit-Baltistan has been desecrated by Islamists, who painted Pakistani flag and slogans on the rock-cut art.
According to the reports, the incident came to light when the locals of Gilgit-Baltistan posted images on social media platforms. The Islamists had vandalised the rock carvings by writing Islamic slogans on the rock-art that belonged to 800 AD.