On December 16, 1999, 81 precious and invaluable antiquities of Gandhara civilisation mysteriously disappeared from inside Taxila museum at night, at a time when the Museum was guarded by the local police as well as guards, specially hired by the Museum.
It was the biggest-ever theft from any museum in Pakistan and to date no recovery has been made and not a single official involved in the case has been punished.
The artefacts were pre-BC era antiquities, discovered by the legendary Sir John Marshall, during excavations carried out between the year 1913 to 1935.
The rarest piece in the artefacts was the statue of the Greek god Dionysus known as the god of wine.
By Our Correspondent
FILE photo of the Greek god Dionysus (god of wine) and goddess Aplirodite (goddess of love) which were mysteriously ‘stolen’ from Taxila Museum in 1999.
The statute was a treat for art lovers as it showed Dionysus holding a wine cup in his hand. Also a statue of the female deity Aphrodite, goddess of love, was also stolen.
Official data reveals that police officials and museum security guards deputed at the Museum held each other responsible for the theft, when the inquiry was conducted, day after the robbery.
While on the other hand, the departmental inquiry ruled out the involvement of museum staff or
security guards and accused the police of being involvement.
Locals believe that these valuable antiquities,
which are worth millions of dollars in the international market, were stolen by an organised group in collusion with the police and security guards deputed on duty that night.
The administration’s effort to bury this theft under the carpet has also raised several questions.
The most valid question being: why no action was taken against the staff on charges of criminal negligence, even if staff members had no role in the theft? Secondly why the matter was not pursued as vigorously as it should have been?
While the fasting Buddha statue is found in almost all the Museums of Pakistan but the Greek statues were one of a kind.
Only two Greek statues were discovered in the Taxila area and both of them are now stolen.