ASI digs for gold at UP fort; king's kin, state lay claim

Last Updated 18 October 2013, 20:54 IST

A sadhu’s dream about a treasure would have evoked nothing more than amusement in normal circumstances, but the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Friday began digging for the alleged gold buried under a ruined fort in Uttar Pradesh’s Daundiya Kheda village in Unna district.

A sadhu in Uttar Pradesh, Shobhan Sarkar, dreamt of the treasure underneath the ruined fort and informed the authorities about it, bringing the nation’s focus to this nondescript hamlet. The ASI began the digging work after the Geological Survey of India (GSI) examined the site and hinted presence of metal.

Even as a 10-member ASI team started to dig the fort on Friday amid scepticism among experts that the “not-so-rich” king of the fort may not have left a huge treasure, individuals claiming to be relatives of Ram Bux Singh — said to be martyred in the first war of Indian independence in 1857 — started to lay claim on the treasure, with the state government also showing interest in it.

Sarkar, who has considerable following in the area, reportedly saw in his dreams the treasure — thousand tonnes of gold — lying buried under the fort. “Ram Bux Singh himself told me about the hidden treasure in my dreams,” Sarkar had claimed, the truth of which would come to light in a month when the ASI team is likely to complete the digging work.

Even before the yellow metal could surface, three persons claiming to be the king’s relatives have demanded that the treasure be used to rebuild the fort and be shared among the relatives.

“The fort should be renovated and the area developed with the help of the treasure. It should be handed over to the descendants of the king,” said Rajesh Pratap Singh, one of the claimants.

Residents of Daundiya Kheda, however, rejected the claims. “They (relatives) never visited the fort so far. This is bogus,” said a resident.

The state government also joined in saying that the treasure “has been unearthed in Uttar Pradesh” and so has the “first claim” to it.

“The treasure should be used for the development of the state. Many of our problems could be solved if gold is found,” said Sunil Kumar Yadav, a minister, deputed by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to speak to representatives of Sarkar and work out modalities of digging it.

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the petition asking it to monitor the work would be taken up for consideration on Monday if the petitioner was able to remove the defects in it.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi mocked the government over the hunt.

(Published 18 October 2013, 20:53 IST)

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