- Taliban begins demolition, VHP
An undated photo of the world's tallest Bhuddha
statue at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. (AP)
KABUL/NEW DELHI: The ruling Taliban
militia on Thursday began demolishing statues across Afganistan, disregarding
international opinion. The move evoked a strong response in India, with the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP) threatening suitable "reaction" in Rajasthan's communally
In Kabul, Afghanistan Radio quoted Taliban
information minister Qudratullah Jamal as saying the Taliban had started destroying
statues in Kandahar, Bamiyan, Herat and Kabul Museum, following a fresh decree from its
Chief Mullah Omar. ``We will use all means, including canons and tanks, to destroy the
statues,'' he said. Jamal said the destruction of scores of pre-Islamic figures was
designed to stop the worshipping of "false idols," throughout the country.
He said militiamen started wrecking the
almost 2,000-year-old Buddhist masterpieces in the central province of Bamiyan, including
the world's tallest standing Buddha measuring 50 metres, after sunrise. The Taliban
soldiers were also at "work" in the Kabul museum and elsewhere in the provinces
of Ghazni, Herat, Jalalabad and Kandahar.
The decree for the destruction of statues
was issued after consultation with religious leaders and the Taliban Islamic Supreme
Court, the Minister said. The orders for destruction have been issued ``because these
statues have remained as a shrine of infidels and they are worshipping these statues
still...God Almighty is the real shrine...all false shrines should be smashed,'' the
An edict announced Monday by the militia's
supreme leader, Mulla Mohammad Omar, calling for the destruction of all statues in line
with "Islamic" laws, has caused shock around the world.
The VHP on Thursday joined issues with the
Taliban over the destruction of statues, including the Bamiyan buddhas and threatened a
"reaction" in communally sensitive Ajmer town of Rajasthan if they do not stop
"insulting" Rajput warrior Prithviraj Chauhan's memorial in Ghazni.
"The destruction of Bamiyan statues
is an insult to Budhhism," VHP senior vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore told
Alleging that the 'samadhi' of Hindu
warrior Prithviraj Chauhan in Ghazni was being "insulted" by the Taliban regime,
Kishore said, "people in his erstwhile capital of Ajmer are agitated over it and they
may react if it does not stop."
Asked what was meant by
"reaction", Bajrang Dal leader Surendra Jain said, "you never know how
The dargah of famous Sufi saint Khwaja
Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer commands a massive following across the Indian sub-continent,
including a large number of Hindus, and is cited as an example of communal harmony.
The two massive Bamiyan Buddhas, carved
into a sandstone cliff near the provincial capital in central Afghanistan, stand 50 metres
and 34.5 metres tall, respectively, and were built around the second century.
Appeals for their preservation have come
from India, the US, France, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran and UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan.
India on Thursday sent a former foreign
secretary to a UNESCO-sponsored meeting in Paris to discuss the destruction of the
"The statues belonged to Buddhists
all over the world and not to Afghanistan alone," said R P Perera, a UNESCO official
based in New Delhi. "I am sure the meeting will take a grim view of the act," he
Koichiro Matsuura, chief of the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), said their destruction would
be a "real cultural disaster that will cause an irreparable harm to a heritage of
exceptional universal value."
Germany, Russia, Thailand and a number of
other countries expressed concern Thursday following the Taliban announcement that the
destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas had begun.
But Afghanistan's foreign minister Wakil
Ahmad Mutawakel said the edict was irreversible. "Have you ever seen any decision of
the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) reversed?" Mutawakel asked.
Afghans, baffled at first by the decree
and now its implementation, quietly and sadly condemned the destruction.
"Destroyed cities can be
rehabilitated. But once the statues are gone, they can never be replaced," said a
resident of Kabul.
Taliban officials privately said they were
not happy with Omar's decree, which is seen as absolute law in more than 90 per cent of
the country under the militia's rule. (Agencies)
Sincere thanks to Tinh Tue
for providing us with this article