Babozai, Mardan

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Babozai, Mardan

Buddhist site in grave danger

Dawn


MARDAN, Nov 19: Residents of the Babozai village have asked the owner of a nearby mine to stop using dynamites in the mountains because doing so put a Buddhist site at risk.

The Kashmir Smast (cave) — an important Buddhist site situated in the mountains of the area — was discovered in 1862 and rare antiquities, including statues, coins and pottery, were recovered from it during excavation.

The locals said the site was damaged by smugglers who carried out extensive excavation work and recovered rare antiquities, which were sold in the country and abroad.

Sources said the owner of the mine, Habibullah Khan, got the mines near the site leased in his name and got a road constructed to make them accessible.

An elder of the Babozai village, Inayat Khan Babozai, told this correspondent that the locals made an agreement with Habibullah about the mines but now it has been learnt that it was a great threat to the Buddhist site.

He said the site was the property of the local people. “We will never let anyone destroy it.” About 300 villagers reached the site and asked the mine-owner to stop blasting as it was destroying the site.

Mr Inayat demanded of the government to take the site into its protection and make proper planning to excavate it as local smugglers were working there illegally to steal antiquities. He also claimed that recently a local of the area found an extremely rare bowl with a lion’s face at the site and then sold it for Rs 2.20 million.

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