Crowd loses hope in gold hunt

Last Updated 20 October 2013, 20:57 IST

The crowds seen for the past several days were no longer visible, and gone were the makeshift tea stalls that had come up in the vicinity of the ruined fort of Raja Ram Bux Singh at the Daundiya Kheda village in Unnao, where the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has started digging following the claims of 1,000 tonnes of gold hidden beneath it.

Their absence reflected the diminishing hopes as the excavation entered its third day on Sunday. The ASI had dug up around 70 cm by Saturday, according to district officials.

It has identified two more sites for digging at the fort, they said. The area around the fort had resembled a fair, with thousands of people from nearby villages flocking to the site to witness the digging in anticipation of gold. Scores of makeshift shops selling tea and other foodstuff had also come up around the site.

People started leaving the site after two days of digging failed to yield anything. The makeshift shops also began vanishing. Security personnel and mediapersons outnumbered the ordinary onlookers at the site on Sunday.

The disciples of the “sadhu” Shobhan Sarkar, who had claimed to have seen the hidden treasure in his dreams and upon whose prodding the dig was undertaken, appeared edgy.

“You (the media) must keep patience. Let the digging proceed. I am certain that something precious will be found,” said Sarkar's disciple Om Baba. “My guru (Sarkar) wants India to become financially strong,” he added.

ASI officials engaged in the work of digging said there was very little chance of finding such a huge quantity of gold beneath the ruins of the fort. Experts have already expressed doubt over the saint's claim regarding the presence of gold.

District Magistrate Vijay Kiran also sought to wash his hands of the decision to start the dig. “The district administration has no role in the work. We have not written any letter in this regard to the Centre. It is something completely under the authority of the ASI,” he said on Sunday.

Sarkar had claimed to have seen in his dreams a gold treasure buried under the ruins of the old fort and had apprised the government officials about it.

The ASI decided to undertake the dig after a team from the Geological Survey of India  examined the site and hinted at the presence of heavy metal beneath the surface. The gold treasure stories have been doing the rounds of nearby villages.

(Published 20 October 2013, 20:57 IST)

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