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India condemns vandalism of Buddhist paintings in Gilgit-Baltistan, demands access for experts


New Delhi, June 03: India on Wednesday conveyed its strong concern to Pakistan over reports of vandalism, defacement and destruction of Buddhist heritage in Gilgit-Baltistan. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said "egregious activities" of this nature displaying contempt for the ancient civilisational and cultural heritage are "highly condemnable".

Anurag Srivastava

"We have conveyed our strong concern at reports of vandalism, defacement and destruction of invaluable Indian Buddhist heritage located in so called Gilgit-Baltistan area of the Indian territory under illegal and forcible occupation of Pakistan," he said.

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Srivastava, replying to a media query on the issue, said India has sought immediate access for its experts to visit the area in order to restore and preserve the invaluable archaeological heritage.

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    "It is a matter of grave concern that the Buddhist symbols are being destroyed and the religious and cultural rights and freedoms are being trampled with impunity in the Indian territories under illegal occupation of Pakistan," the MEA spokesperson said.

    He said Pakistan must vacate the illegally occupied territory which belonged to India.

    "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 said.

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