Gold diggers target UP forts, temples

Four days of digging at the Unnao fort may not have yielded any trace of gold but the lure of the yellow metal has made old temples and forts in Uttar Pradesh the target of the treasure hunters, endangering the lives of priests.

There has been at least four attempts to dig for “hidden treasures” at three old temples in different parts of the state and at an old fort since the Unnao seer Shobhan Sarkar claimed to have seen a buried gold treasure beneath the ruined fort of Raja Ram Bux Singh.

Miscreants attacked the priest of an old temple in Fatehpur district, about 200 km from here, and held him hostage for several hours as they dug up a platform inside the temple, that was situated on the bank of the Ganga. The attack came a few days after Sarkar predicted a treasure beneath the temple. The priest sustained injuries in the attack.

In another similar attack, miscreants raided an old temple in Banda district in the state a few days back after a local sadhu predicted that a large treasure of gold and silver could be buried beneath it. The attackers ransacked the temple but could not find anything.

In another incident, people started digging at a 300-year old fort in UP’s Baharaich district in the hope of striking gold. Reports said that the digging had been going on for the past four days but the authorities had not yet taken any action to stop it. “Articles of archaeological importance may be destroyed during such digging operations,” said D P Tewari, a senior faculty at the department of archaeology at Lucknow University here.

“There are many old temples and ruined forts in the state and if this trend is not checked immediately, it may start at many other places as well,” said Upendra Dixit, a Lucknow-based astrologer and priest.

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