R. Gopal, Director of the State Archaeology Department, dropped a bombshell on Thursday when he said that the “department is in the grip of the mafia”.

Addressing a galaxy of scholars at a function here on Thursday, Mr. Gopal said he had been threatened with murder.

Addressing a gathering of scholars attending the function to mark the completion of the 125 years of the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, Mr. Gopal became highly emotional when he said the department was in the grip of the mafia. “The State Archaeology Department was functioning with a measly budget in the past but did outstanding work. But things began to go wrong the day the 13th Finance Commission announced a grant of Rs. 100 crore towards the restoration of monuments,” he said.

The audience was stunned, and numismatist A.V. Narasimhamurthy tried to pacify him, but Mr. Gopal broke down and said “an engineer is in the process of preparing bogus bills for Rs. 40 crore at his residence”.

He then regained his composure and announced the institution of ‘Puratathwa Ratna’ award for five individuals in recognition of their contribution to the field. Heritage Commissioner P.S. Vastrad was also on the dais when Mr. Gopal broke down. After the programme, when mediapersons sought confirmation from Mr. Gopal, he reiterated what he had said during the function, but added he was helpless.

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