Officials stumble upon 522 old silver slabs weighing about 18 tonnes
In one of the biggest findings of “hidden treasure” from a religious place, Orissa's Endowment Department officials and the police stumbled upon 522 silver slabs weighing about 18 tonnes from a mutt in Puri on Saturday.
As per the present market price, the value of the metal is estimated to be around Rs. 90 crore.
The huge stock of silver was found from four sinduka (wooden containers) placed inside a room, closed from all sides by brick walls, in the Emar Mutt in front of the Sri Jagannath Temple.
“The silver seemed to be very old, possibly over 100 years old. As many as 522 silver slabs, all in brick shape, have been retrieved. Each of the slabs weighs between 35-40 kg. We are continuing the investigation to find out how the stock landed here,” said Sanjay Kumar, Puri Superintendent of Police.
Mr. Kumar said the names of ‘Bangok,' ‘Sanghai' and ‘Canada' were embossed on the bricks, and put together, their weight was measured at 18 tonnes 87 kg.
“We have informed the forensic department to check the age of the metal. The Emar Mutt has been cordoned off. Heavily armed police are keeping a close watch,” Mr. Kumar added.
The police found out about the silver bricks from two labourers who were trying to sell the slabs in Dhenkanal district. “One person had confessed that he had stolen a brick from the Emar Mutt. We now suspect that the smuggling of such bricks was continuing for quite a long time,” Mr. Kumar said.
The two persons were identified as Barun Baral and Akshyay Das of Kuttam village under the Dhenkanal sadar police station.
“Two claimants for the treasure, one a saint of the mutt and the other from the Endowment Department, have come up,” Mr. Kumar said.
Rajagopala Ramanuj, mahanta (saint) of the mutt, said: “I had no idea that such a room existed in the mutt. It was closed from all sides. My predecessor had told me that the mutt had hidden treasure. Now we have come to know about it.”
The police said that the general public perception in Puri was that the treasure should be donated to the Sri Jagannath Temple. The Emar Mutt is one of the several ancient mutts in Puri.