New Delhi, June 3: India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over reports of destruction of Indian-Buddhist heritage in PoK's Gilgit-Baltistan region, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday. The region is claimed by India as part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. India reiterated areas of Gilgit and Baltistan are an integral part of India and Pakistan has "illegally and forcefully occupied" them. Nuclear War Between India, Pakistan Possible If Major Terror Attack Happens in Kashmir, May Leave 125 Million People Dead: Report.
"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," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement. "It is a matter of grave concern that Buddhist symbols are being destroyed and the religious and cultural rights and freedoms are being trampled with impunity," he added. Imran Khan Warns World of India-Pakistan Nuclear War if Kashmir Issue Remains Ignored.
Calling for preservation and protection of "invaluable archaeological heritage", Srivastava said, India has sought immediate access for its experts in the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan. "Egregious activities of this nature which display contempt for the ancient civilizational and cultural heritage are highly condemnable," the MEA spokesperson said. This came after reports that Buddhist rock carvings in the Chilas area were vandalised.
Reiterating that Gilgit-Baltistan belongs to India, Srivastava said: "We have once again called upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all illegally occupied territories and end the gross violation of political, economic and cultural rights of people living there."