Author Topic: Pakistani police seize 2,000-year-old Buddhist relics worth millions  (Read 5042 times)


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Wow this is shocking indeed. The world almost lost some buddhist relics in the hands of some thieves. But luckily, the Pakistani police were efficient in this matter and caught the thieves before they could disappear with the relics. Thank you so much for the pakistani government for safeguarding these precious relics! Although, some of them have been damaged due to mishandling, but they still did a good job..

Pak police seize 2,000-year-old Buddhist relics worth millions
Published: Sunday, Jul 8, 2012, 1:10 IST
Place: ISLAMABAD | Agency: PTI

Pakistani police have seized a large number of 2,000-year-old Buddhist artifacts and relics dating from the Gandhara era and arrested two men who were allegedly trying to smuggle the items out of the country.

The artifacts were recovered in two major police raids in the southern port city of Karachi in the last 24 hours.

Police first seized artifacts and relics on a tip off when they stopped a container in Awami colony in Korangi on Friday while on Saturday they raided a warehouse in a residential area of Korangi and recovered more artifacts and relics.

"The seized items contain statues of Gautam Buddha, life sized idols, plaques and utensils," a senor police official said.

The haul included 10 statues of the Lord Buddha.

Some heavier artifacts were damaged due to handling and careless unloading of items at a police station.

The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which was home to the Gandhara civilisation, has demanded that the items should be handed over to it by police in Karachi.

The Gandhara civilisation evolved in the Peshawar Valley and parts of eastern Afghanistan over 2,000 years ago.

Qasim Ali Qasim, an official of the Sindh culture department, said that the artifacts enjoy protection under the Antiquities Act of 1975. The law restricts digging of and trade in protected objects, prescribing long prison terms and heavy fines.

Ali said the goods were being transported to Sialkot when the police intercepted the container.

He said the raid on the godown was conducted on information provided by the arrested driver and the cleaner of the container.

According to police, the two identified the owner of the contraband consignment as Arif Butt.

National Museum chief Mohammad Shah Bokhari said an inventory had been made of 38 artefacts and some more items were yet to be examined.

Qasim said the artifacts included a statue of a "Boddhisattva" or Buddha before achieving nirvana and a "Jataka" or a stone panel depicting the scene at the time of Buddha's birth.

Among others was a "Hariti" (a witch who, as the legend goes, used to kill children, but after meeting Gautama Buddha repented and was transformed into a protector of children)

"Probably the smugglers intended to smuggle these out of the country through Karachi port or airport, but after failing to do so, they decided to send the consignment to Sialkot dry port for eventual shipment overseas," Qasim said.

A good number of the sculptures were three to four metres long and very heavy.

Police had to arrange for lifters to start moving the artifacts and relics from the godown in Korangi and bring them to the police station.

This is not the first time that a large haul of artifacts has been seized.

A few years ago, over 1,500 items, including more than 400 Gandhara sculptures and pre-historic and Islamic era relics, were seized by authorities at Karachi port.


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Re: Pakistani police seize 2,000-year-old Buddhist relics worth millions
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2012, 08:12:42 PM »
Stealing holy objects have always been prevalent throughout history. Look at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Many of the buddha statues have been stolen and sold around the world.

The negative karma created for stealing is poverty, misery and disappointment. After death, the person will suffer in hell or be reborn in the animal realm.


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Re: Pakistani police seize 2,000-year-old Buddhist relics worth millions
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2012, 05:45:53 AM »
It is not a surprise to me when more Buddhist related items are found around the world and being smuggled to be sold on the black market. Now I have to think twice when people on the streets ask me whether I want to look at antiques. Not only they smuggle and sold illegally, they created a demand for people to buy these stolen antiques and it is bad. Lets hope that police around the world have initiative to help and not let the black market people get away with it.

POLICE in Karachi have seized dozens more stolen ancient artefacts dating from the Gandhara civilisation.

The catch came thanks to leads obtained from those arrested in a similar raid the day before, officials said.

The antiquities had been illegally dug from the country's restive northwest where Pakistan's army is battling against Islamist militants.

The latest raid on a warehouse in the eastern Ibrahim Hyderi neighbourhood unearthed two large boxes stuffed with ancient Gandhara art.

The haul included statues of Buddha, life-sized idols, bronze artefacts, pottery and decorative plaques, Qasim Ali Qasim, director of Sindh province archaeology department, said.

On Friday, the police intercepted a flatbed truck in Karachi and found similar antiquities from the 2000-year-old civilisation hidden under plastic and wooden items.

Senior police official Latif Siddiqui said the driver and cleaner of the truck who were arrested on Friday gave a lead to the warehouse which helped recover more artefacts.

"We have inventorised the antiquities that we had found from the truck on Friday, which are more than 300," Mr Siddiqui said.

"We have yet to inventorise the antiquities we have seized today, which will make the number even more staggering."

Another senior police official, Shahid Hayat, said, "The artefacts include two large statues which we are so heavy that we are having problems moving them with a lifter."

"We are investigating whether the smuggling of the artefacts is part of an international ring of smugglers," he said.

Mr Qasim said it was one of the biggest seizure of such precious antiquities in the country's history.

Mr Qasim had earlier said he believed the items had been dug up in Taliban-infested northwest Pakistan and brought to Karachi a piece or two at a time, ready for dispatch to Europe overland via Afghanistan and Central Asia.

"The thieves and mafias involved in this business dig in the northwest, which is filled with Gandhara sites with little control by the authorities," Mr Qasim had said.

"They dug up ancient pieces, accumulated them in Karachi and then wanted to send them to Afghanistan in the garb of a NATO vehicle when they saw Pakistan has reopened the route."

A security official said the seizure showed an organised mafia was at work to deplete the country of its rich past.

"They must be very influential and well-organised criminals and we need to launch a thorough search to catch them," he said.

Gandhara was a Buddhist civilisation that flourished around the modern-day city of Peshawar and in parts of eastern Afghanistan.