Gandhara relics: Stolen or not, police and archaeologists can’t agree on one number


Share post:

The police and archaeology experts seem to be at loggerheads over the actual number of Gandhara relics seized earlier in the month. 

The artefacts will remain at the police station till the next court hearing on July 24 [Credit: Express Tribune]

Amid press reports that some artefacts have been stolen from the Awami Colony police station, both parties associated with the case are coming up with a different total for the statues. 

While National Museum’s director Mohammad Shah Bokhari claims to have photographed and documented around 330 pieces earlier, the newly posted SHO at the police station, Hatim Marwat, says there are only 308 artefacts. 

The police had seized a container full of Buddhist relics on July 6 and then found some more in a Korangi warehouse on July 8. As the police were investigating the case, archaeology experts, including officials from Sindh culture department and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s archaeology department, were called in to record the details of the seized relics. 

Many of the Buddhist relics thought to be of the third century turned out to be fake, making it even more difficult for archaeologists to determine their exact origin. According to an antiquities officer, experts are yet to determine how many of the Buddhist relics are fake. 

“We need resources such as forensic analysis to determine the authenticity of each of the relic,” he said. “Right now we don’t have that facility.” 

Some of the ancient relics had even been damaged due to the careless handling by police officers and labourers during shifting. The artefacts were dumped in a compound of the Awami Colony police station. Reports in the press suggested that piece by piece, the relics were being stolen due to the casual security at the police station. There were reports that three statues have gone missing, but there has been no official confirmation. 

Awami Colony SHO Marwat told The Express Tribune that all of the seized relics were documented by the Sindh culture department officials and have documentation numbers on them. 

“It is untrue that artefacts have been stolen [from the police station],” he said. “To our knowledge, there are only 308 pieces. We don’t have information about the rest.” 

However, National Museum’s Bokhari told The Express Tribune that photographic evidence and records were available of 330 artefacts. If some have gone missing, it is the responsibility of the police, he added. 

“The police have their custody, and we can’t keep check all day and night to see where the idols are and how they are being handled,” Bokhari said. “If they have been stolen, the police are to be blamed [for it].” 

The artefacts will remain at the police station until the next court hearing on July 24. It is expected that the court will handed them over to the culture department. 

When asked why the Gandhara relics were dumped in the courtyard, the SHO replied: “The statues are not watermelons that need to be kept in a refrigerator. Look at their size and weight. Where else would we keep them?” 

Police sources said that the former SHO was transferred as some statues had gone missing from the police station. But Marwat denied this, saying his predecessor’s posting was a routine matter. 

Source: The Express Tribune [July 22, 2012]



Related articles

Japan’s largest complete dinosaur skeleton discovered

The complete skeleton of an 8-meter-long dinosaur has been unearthed from marine deposits dating back 72 million years...

Hot super-Earths stripped by host stars

Astrophysicists at the University of Birmingham have used data from the NASA Kepler space telescope to discover a...

New study shows that reading expands our self-concepts

"We read to know we are not alone," wrote C.S. Lewis. But how do books make us feel...

Birds evolved ultraviolet vision several times

Ultraviolet vision evolved at least eight times in birds from a common violet sensitive ancestor finds a study...

Unique archaeological discovery in Supraśl

A place where people performed rituals more than four thousand years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in...

Looted Egyptian artefacts seized

A committee, formed by the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), has confirmed that the artifacts seized this...

Rare cache of Hasmonean Period coins discovered in Israel’s Modi‘in

A hoard of silver coins dating to the Hasmonean period (126 BCE) was exposed in April in an...

Unlocking secrets of how fossils form

Fossils tell amazing stories and inspire them, too -- just think of this summer's "Jurassic World" blockbuster. But...