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Buddhist rock carvings in Gilgit ‘vandalised’

The local media has also criticised Pakistani rulers for “awful display of barbarism on an ancient rock-art site”.

Statesman News Service | Jammu |

Fundamentalists and miscreants backed by Pakistan Army have vandalised the archaeologically precious and ancient Buddhist rock carvings by painting slogans on this treasure in the Gilgit Baltistan area that is illegally occupied by Pakistan.

The outrageous action has come on the lines of destruction of the carved statue of Buddha by the Taliban in Bamyan valley of Afghanistan in 2001.

Slogans and Pakistani flags have been painted fresh on the 800 AD Buddhist rock carvings as the pictures posted on social media on Tuesday by some residents of Gilgit Baltistan show traces of the flowing wet paint.

It is worth mentioning that The Statesman had recently carried a report of threat of these artefacts getting submerged in the DiamerBhasha dam that is being constructed in the area jointly by China and the Pakistan Army.

Irrespective of the main population of the area being Muslim, they have come out to criticise the Pakistan authorities for sponsoring such irreversible damage to these rocks near Chilas.

Reacting to destruction of these rocks, a prominent historian of Gilgit Baltistan, Araib Ali Baig, tweeted; “Have such slogans and paintings been made on the Gandhara civilization which is located in the Punjab province of Pakistan from the last three thousand years before Christ or is it just to militarize the civilizations of the disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan ???” Another tweet criticising damage to the ancient art read; “This grotesque vandalism is intended to engender feelings of faux patriotism in Gilgitis and to remind them who’s the boss (Paki Estab)…..”.

The local media has also criticised Pakistani rulers for “awful display of barbarism on an ancient rock-art site”.

Hurt by the attempt to destroy the heritage, Hurmat Ali Shah tweeted; “The horror of this vandalism is that of erasing history. They all are barbarians who deform/destroy our cultural heritage and hence our conduit to knowing our historical ways of being”.

Such carvings are also present in areas along the Indus River in Ladakh union territory but Gilgit Baltistan is rich in petroglyphs (rock carvings) in hundreds of thousands and from ancient times. It is estimated that there are 50,000 pieces of petroglyphs in Gilgit Baltistan, especially along Karakoram Highway, Baig added.

Spiritual and temporal Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, during his recent visit to Ladakh, had urged all to preserve the heritage. Dark clouds were already looming over it as it would get submerged under the waters of the DiamerBhasha dam.