Two 10th century sculptures of Gautam Buddha unearthed during excavation in Hazaribag stolen

Published on Mar 22, 2021 08:22 AM IST
Two ancient sculptures of Gautam Buddha, reportedly from 10th century, that were unearthed during an excavation by Archeological Survey of India on foothills of Juljul hill at Sadar block of Hazaribagh district were stolen on Saturday night, officials said on Sunday
HT Image
HT Image
By, Ranchi

Two ancient sculptures of Gautam Buddha, reportedly from 10th century, that were unearthed during an excavation by Archeological Survey of India on foothills of Juljul hill at Sadar block of Hazaribagh district were stolen on Saturday night, officials said on Sunday.

Hazaribagh deputy commissioner (DC) Aditya Kumar Anand, who visited the site on Sunday along with superintendent of police (SP) Karthik S and other officials said, “We have started investigation into the matter. I will not comment on the issue at the moment.”

Last year, the ASI identified three mounds on the foothills having links to Buddhism. The excavation of the first mound led to the discovery of a complete shrine with a central and two subsidiary shrines, merely two metres below the surface.

In the second round of excavation, beginning last week of January this year, the second mound, around 40m away from the first mound, was excavated and a small Buddha Vihar-like structure was discovered.

Around a dozen sculptures of Gautam Buddha and Tara were also discovered during the excavation. However, two sculptures of Gautam Buddha in seated position were stolen despite deployment of security personnel at the site. The sculptures made of sand stone were less damaged, ASI officials said.

Superintending archaeologist, excavation branch-III of ASI, Rajendra Dehuri, said, “The sculptures and artifacts unearthed during the excavation were kept in-situ (on site). There were security personnel and labourers at the site. The administration team is investigating into the matter.”

Former deputy director at state archaeology department, HP Sinha, said, “The price of the sculpture is dependent on the period it belongs to. The two stolen sculptures belonged to somewhere between ninth and eleventh century, as per my knowledge. Their prices in the international market will go in crores, as they are antique and linked to Buddhism.”

He said, “This is an organised crime having involvement of some locals. The ASI and district administration should have understood its value and enforced proper security.”

Last week on Friday, some legislators during the ongoing Assembly session raised concerns that the sculptures and artifacts unearthed during the excavation will be taken to Bihar, as the excavation was done by the Bihar chapter of ASI.

However, representing the government, agriculture minister Badal Patralekh told the legislators that the chief minister directed the ASI chief secretary to not send the sculptures unearthed in Hazaribag to Bihar. “They will be preserved at the same location and it will be developed as tourist spot,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha demanded a CBI probe into the matter. Sinha, while posting his comment on social media platform Facebook, alleged, “The Jharkhand government has failed to provide security to the ancient sculptures.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sanjoy Dey is principal correspondent in Jharkhand and writes on government, urban development, forest and environment, tourism, rural development and agriculture. He likes to write human interest stories.

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