Tourism Minister instructs police to step up vigil and bring guilty to book

An ancient mantapa, situated on the way to Malyavanta temple in Hampi, the erstwhile seat of the Vijayanagar empire, was vandalised late on Saturday night in what is suspected to be a bid to find treasure.

The four-pillared mantapa, a brick-and-lime structure and popularly known as gaali gopura, was razed. Crow bar and wooden poles were among the material found near the site.

The Malyavanta temple and the surrounding area are under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). A team of archaeologists are expected to reach Hampi to study the reason for the mantapa’s collapse, sources in the ASI told The Hindu. With the round-the-clock patrolling of the area — by teams comprising personnel from the police, ASI, State’s archaeology department and the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority — discontinued, the culprits found it easy to go about the “treasure hunt”, said the sources. Superintendent of Police Chandragupta, along with other officers, including those from ASI, visited the spot. He held a meeting with officials of various departments to chalk out a plan to secure monuments at Hampi. B.S. Anand Singh, Minister for Tourism, who is also district in-charge, visited the spot and instructed the police to step up vigil and bring the guilty to book.

Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad staged a demonstration seeking arrest of the guilty and measures to protect the monuments.

Case registered

The Kamalapur police have registered a case and two teams have been formed to investigate the case, sources in the police said.

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