A video showing some workers smashing the life-sized Buddha statue on 17th July went viral on social media. The vandalism happened in Mardan, KPK in the town of Takht-i-Bahi which is an indo-Parthian archeological site and an important region for the Buddhists. The statue was discovered at a construction site and the contractor ordered it to be destroyed without informing the archeology department.
Reportedly the contractor did this on advice of local molvi (religious figure) who said it would be against Islam to leave the statue intact. The cleric was reportedly arrested later.
People React To The Video Of Buddha Statue Being Vandalized
This statue’s destruction ignited a widespread criticism regarding religious intolerance in the country. Many social media users were angry at the incident and thought that Pakistanis is suffering from major insecurities which leads them to make mindless decisions.
They point out how some religious extremists show their hatred for other religions. Breaking the statues with sledgehammers suggests the same hatred for the religion of those minorities. Sadly, in their mind, they are thinking that they are doing some great religious work.
This user said that if they think like that then they are delusional. The advice that molvi gave was called bogus by many. However, the bigger fault was ruled out as people who listened to someone instead of using common sense.
Culprits Have Been Arrested
The incident and heavy condemnation evoked the regional archeology department to file criminal charges against the vandalizers. Today on July 18, five people were arrested under violation of The Antiquities Act 1975 which prohibits the damage done to any antiquities.
The Twitter handle of the ruling party PTI announced about the arrest and also confirmed that the pieces of the statue were recovered. According to the archeology department, the statue was completely destroyed.
Mardan police played a front role in arresting the smashers. If they are successfully convicted, they will be jailed for at least 5 years. They are all lined up in this video:
The pieces of the statue were taken to study about its archeological value
What Was The Archeological Value Of The Statue?
Later, local archaeologists determined that the Buddha statue had a historic value. Unfortunately that value was also destroyed due to religious intolerance. Part credit also goes to the inefficient preservation methods which enabled the statue to stay at a construction site for apparently more than 1000 years. What were all those generations of archeologists doing if they did not find and preserve ancient artifacts.
It is true that Pakistan has a rich heritage but there are not enough skills and resources to preserve that history properly.