Bamyan’s cave-dwellers may not celebrate Eid due to poverty
BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): Thousands of cave-dwellers near the Buddha statues in central Bamyan province have complained against poverty and unemployment saying their Eid would be different compared to others.
Unable to make ends meet, the troglodytes have to struggle to keep their bodies and souls together. Their children and family members have to be content with eating breadcrumbs and unhygienic leftover food collected from restaurant rubbish.
Around 3,000 caves are dotted around the famous Buddha statues, inhabited by 250 families from Bamyan and other provinces. Caught up in grinding poverty, the people living here do not have other shelters.
Some of the caves at the base of the statues were used by the Taliban for storing weapons. Later on, destitute civilians used the rock structures as their abodes. For nearly, three centuries, the Buddhists lived in the caves.
Looking the excruciating living conditions, one could not escape the feeling that the hapless individuals are stuck in a time warp, isolated from the modern-day world. To them, hand-to-mouth living is more than a luxury.
Rustam, a troglodyte who has to support an eight-member family, calls survival his biggest challenge. Faced with perennial food shortages, his children happily eat dried bread and discarded eatables.
“I personally visit restaurants and ask for bread. I tell restaurant managers the leftover food is meant for feeding domestic animals. In fact, it is consumed by my children,” he tells Pajhwok Afghan News.
He lamented in such circumstance how he and his family would get the joy of Eid adding that they had nothing to cheer about and celebrated the festival.
He said the cave dwellers could even could not present a cup of tea to the visitors and were in terrible conditions.
Abdur Rahman Ahmadi, the governor’s spokesman, says: “We don’t want our citizens to live in caves in the 21 century. Plans have to be devised and implemented by the central government to put an end to cave life.”
The local administration can execute only small projects in coordination with donors but they cannot meet the requirements of such a huge pauperiped population, he explains. He suggests a budgetary allocation for building houses for these people.
Ahmadi verifies most of these people area jobless. The provincial authorities, having provided the housing facilities for 21 households because, cannot do more than that, the spokesman maintains.
Many Bamyan statues are carved into the sides of cliffs facing the provincial capital -- home to the world's oldest oil paintings. The city, with a population of 39,915, is known for its cave dwellings.
A hub of trade for much of the second millennium CE, it once served as the meeting ground between the East and West. Its remarkable archaeology is a blend of Greek, Turkish, Persian, Chinese and Indian influence.
The city was part of the Buddhist Kushan Empire in the early centuries of the Christian era. The area was conquered by the Ghaznavids in the 11th century. In 1221 the city and its population were completely wiped out by Genghis Khan.
Famous all over the world, the Buddha statues were blown up in March 2001 by the Taliban, who called them un-Islamic. At one point in time, 2,000 monks meditated in caves among the sandstone cliffs -- a huge tourist attraction.
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