India has condemned the defacing of ancient Buddhist rock carvings and paintings in Gilgit-Baltistan, falling under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), as it sought experts’ access to the area to restore the archaeological heritage site to its original condition. “Egregious activities of this nature which display contempt for the ancient civilizational and cultural heritage are highly condemnable. We have sought immediate access for its experts to the area in order to restore and preserve this invaluable archaeological heritage,” Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Wednesday.
“We have once again called upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all illegally occupied territories and end gross violation of political, economic and cultural rights of people living there,” he added.
The strong remarks by the MEA spokesperson comes a week after images of vandalised Buddhist carvings sufaced on social media. As per media reports, the paintings and carvings have been painted on by Pakistani flags and slogans, an act allegedly carried out by fundamentalists with backing of the Pakistan Army.
The rock carvings in question date back to 800 AD. The vandalism resonates with the act of the destruction of the Buddha statue in Afghanistan’s Bamyan Valley by the Taliban in 2001.