PESHAWAR: Unidentified men vandalised the tomb of renowned Pashto Sufi poet Abdur Rahman Mohmand, more commonly known as Rahman Baba, and stole his tombstone from the mausoleum. The tombstone was gifted to the cemetery by King of Afghanistan Zahir Shah in 1950.
Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Sardar Saqib Raza told The Express Tribune on Monday that it was brought to his attention through local sources. He proceeded to register a case at Yakatoot Police Station and ordered a separate inquiry through his own office.
The DC also confirmed the news that some illegal construction was under way at the cemetery, but added that the structure had been taken over and orders had been issued to raze it.
“During the inquiry, we were also told that unknown persons had stolen the tombstone of the crypt, which was gifted by His Highness Zahir Shah. It was engraved with Rehman Baba’s poetry and studded with pearls and coral. The precious stones had already been stolen some years ago,” Raza added.
He said that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government had previously allotted 80 kanals of land for the cemetery, but due to land grabbing and encroachment, the space available had fallen to around 30 kanals. “I have ordered the local land record authority to reclaim land belonging to the mausoleum”, Raza added.
Rahman Baba was a renowned Mughal era poet from Peshawar. He is, along with his contemporary Khushal Khan Khattak, considered one of the most influential poets among Pashtuns on either side of the Durand Line.
His poetry expresses a peaceful, mystical side of local culture which is increasingly threatened by intolerant modern interpretations of Islam.