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India offers to transfer Buddha artifacts
The Times of India and PTI

The Times of India: NEW DELHI March 2, 2001: India on Friday offered to move from Afghanistan the Buddhist artifacts which Taliban has vowed to destroy. The government announced this in Parliament as both Houses adopted a resolution condemning Taliban's `cultural vandalism.'

As reports came in of the Taliban moving tanks to destroy the 2,000 year old Buddha statues in Bamiyan, the Rajya Sabha adopted a unanimous resolution against ``the barbarism and anti-civilisational intent'' of the Taliban.

The Lok Sabha too adopted an identical resolution after it was read out to the House by Speaker G M C Balayogi.

In his statement in Parliament, Jaswant Singh said even at this late stage India would like to convey that the destruction should stop.

``If the Taliban do not wish to retain this inheritance, India would be happy to arrange for the transfer of all these artifacts to India where they would be kept safely and preserved for all mankind, in the full knowledge and clear understanding that they are, in the first place and above all, treasures of the Afghan people themselves.''

Despite universal concern and protests, the Taliban appeared bent upon committing ``a grave wrong'' of targeting the incomparable Buddha statues at Bamiyan, he said. It was ``a sacrilege to humanity, to the civilisational and cultural inheritance of all mankind.''

``This regression into medieval barbarism is precisely what India, among many other countries, has been cautioning the world against for so long,'' Singh said.

The international community had rejected, he said, Taliban's ideological orientations which were responsible for its territories emerging as world's principal centres of international terrorism, illicit drugs and violation of human rights, particularly that of women.

The Parliament resolution hoped the world community, particularly the United Nations, will prevail upon the Taliban to desist from this ``senseless act.''

``They have moved tanks and guns to destroy the one of the greatest examples of human creativity,'' the resolution said.

``This intent of destroying the two thousand year old statues of Buddha and the Buddhist shrines in Bamiyan would constitute an appalling act of cultural vandalism,'' it added.

The matter was also raised during zero hour by Congress MP Jaipal Reddy and Bharatiya Janata Party's Vijay Kumar Malhotra.

India offers to preserve Afghan artefacts
(New Delhi, March 2)

INDIA TODAY offered to preserve in its territory the historic artefacts of the cultural heritage of Afghanistan where the ruling Taliban militia have threatened to destroy the priceless Buddha's statues in Bamiyan province.

External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told Parliament that if the Taliban did not wish to retain this inheritance, India would be happy to arrange for the transfer of all these relics to its territory where they would be kept safely and preserved for all mankind as treasures belonging to Afghan people.

The 2000-year-old statue of Buddha in Bamiyan is the tallest in the world measuring 55 metres.

Singh told BBC that the international community has to address itself to this problem. "This is truly a civilisational issue and such countries which can influence Taliban--and there are countries that can--must immediately begin to do so."

He said the countries that can influence the Taliban "have not really joined the international concerns in this regard and we mean to address and not simply address the Taliban elements in Afghanistan but also countries that have close and good connections with Taliban".


Updated: 3-3-2001

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