ASI begins excavation for gold treasure, Modi takes a dig

Last Updated 18 October 2013, 14:12 IST
Amid tight security, Archaeologists today began digging for treasure beneath a 19th century fort, after a seer said a former king appeared to him in a dream and told him that 1,000 tonnes of gold lay buried in its ruins.

The excavation work was being carried out at the fort of Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh in Unnao's Daudiakala village in Uttar Pradesh by a 12-member team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) led by its Deputy Director P K Mishra.

Shobhan Sarkar, the seer who apparently had a dream that 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried in the remains of the fort, earlier performed "boomi pujan" and marked the points to be excavated by the ASI team. After this ritual. District Magistrate Vijay Kiran Anand formally kickstarted the digging work.

As large crowds gathered around the fort, the district administration clamped prohibitory orders in Unnao to prevent any untoward incident.

District Magistrate Vijay Kiran Anand said the excavation work would take at least a month to complete.

Mishra told reporters that ASI began the excavation work on the basis of the findings of a report by GSI.

To a query whether the decision for excavation was taken on the basis of the seer's dream, he said, "actually a report by the GSI suggested that there may be gold or silver there. On the basis of findings of the report we have started the excavation and results will come soon."

A PIL, meanwhile, was filed before the Supreme Court seeking court monitoring of the digging work.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam agreed to hear the PIL after the defects in the petition are removed. It, however, said the state government is there to take care of the process.

The petition filed by advocate M L Sharma submitted that court monitoring is required in the case as the valuable resources might "vanish" and pleaded for an urgent hearing.

BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi seized on the excavation work and took a dig at the Centre for its "gold hunt", saying it should focus on bringing back black money stashed in Swiss banks.

"The government has started to dig for some 1,000 tonne gold, after someone dreamt of it. You bring back the money that the looters have stashed in Swiss banks. That would be more than the value of 1,000 tonnes of gold," Modi said while addressing BJP workers in Chennai.

When asked about how much time would it take to dig out the treasure, Sarkar said Geological Survey of India (GSI) would be able to answer that accurately, adding the treasure would not be found concentrated at one place.

"1,000 tonnes of gold will not be found at one place but deep digging would have to be done at several points," Sarkar said.

Heavy police force has been deployed around the fort, where huge crowd has gathered to have a glimpse of the excavation work happening there. Barricades have been also erected to control the crowd.

Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh, who was hanged in 1858 after rising up against the Britishers, appeared in the dream of the seer and told him to take care of the gold treasure buried in the remains of the late king's fort, said Swami Omji, a follower of Sarkar.

Sarkar reportedly convinced Union Minister Charandas Mahant about his dream, following which a team of ASI and GSI officials surveyed the area.

Mahant, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, had visited Sarkar's ashram here on September 22 and October 7 and assured him of appropriate action in this regard.

"On the basis of surface findings like pottery and antiquities, we have decided to excavate that site. It has just started. As far as mound is concerned we have large number of mounds in gangetic valley which belongs to early historical period and historical period," Mishra said.

The GSI submitted the report in the first week of this month, Mishra said, adding they have not confirmed the amount of gold buried there, but have suggested there could be some alloy.

Commenting on the event, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said, "If the seer's dream is true or not we will get to know soon. The State Government has taken a decision to this effect." 

(Published 18 October 2013, 05:14 IST)

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