India while strongly condemning the destruction of Buddhist symbols in Pakistan occupied Kashmir sought access for its experts in the region to preserve its civilisational heritage, which the national capital claims as part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Social media was flooded with images showing the defacement and vandalism of several ancient Buddhist paintings and rock carvings.
The Modi-led NDA government once again asked Islamabad to vacate the illegally-occupied Indian territory after reports appeared of vandalisation of the Buddhist rock carvings of 800 CE in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
In response to media queries about the reports of vandalism, defacement and destruction of Buddhist archaeological sites in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir, official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said that it was a matter of grave concern.
The Buddhist symbols, he said, "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. Egregious activities of this nature which display contempt for the ancient civilizational and cultural heritage are highly condemnable".
The government has sought immediate access for its experts to the area in order to "restore and preserve this invaluable archaeological heritage," he said.
Srivastava said the government has conveyed its concern to Pakistan and also called upon the Imran Khan government to immediately vacate all illegally occupied territories and end gross violation of political, economic and cultural rights of people living there.
(With agency inputs)