Petition to secure ancient Buddhist site near Taxila filed in LHC: report

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TAXILA: The Lahore High Court is set to hear a petition challenging encroachments that have blocked access to an ancient Buddhist site near Taxila, according to a report by a private media outlet.

The road leading to the Dharmarajika Stupa, which is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site and protected under the Antiquities Act 1975, has been blocked for nearly six years after a private developer purchased land near the site and constructed a boundary wall that blocked access to the stupa.

Located about three kilometres south of Taxila Museum, the stupa was one of eight shrines constructed in the 3rd century BC, during the reign of Emperor Ashoka.

The ‘illegal’ structure has not been removed, even though Section 22 of the Antiquities Act prohibits any construction within 200 feet of protected sites.

Now, two citizens – Abdul Malik Khan and Saeed Ahmed Wahla, through their counsel Asma Jahangir – have filed a petition under Article 199 of the Constitution before the Lahore High Court, asking that the boundary wall constructed around the historic site be declared illegal.

“The court is our last hope,” Khan told a private newspaper, adding that the illegal blockade made it a hassle for local and foreign tourists to reach the site. Wahla hoped that the court would be able to wake the Punjab archaeology department from its slumber.