India on Thursday expressed concern over reports of a statue of Budhha being smashed to pieces in Pakistan last week and asked the neighbouring country to protect its minority groups and cultural sites, PTI reported.
A rare statue of Buddha was damaged allegedly by construction workers in Mardan district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as they considered it to be “un-Islamic”, Hindustan Times had reported on Saturday. The statue is believed to be nearly 1,700-years-old and belonged to the Gandhara civilisation.
“What we understand is four Pakistani citizens at the behest of a religious cleric, who told them that their faith will be renounced if they don’t dismantle that statue, broke that statue with a sledgehammer,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava was quoted as saying by PTI. “We have expressed our concerns to Pakistan. We have conveyed our expectation that they would ensure the safety, security and well-being of the minority community there, as well as protect their cultural heritage.”
The police had arrested four people for damaging the statue last week. They had allegedly broken the statue after a cleric’s orders.
The Department of Archeology and Museums in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, meanwhile, recoverd pieces of the damaged statue on Sunday to study its historical value.