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“All talk of ASI acting on a priest’s dream is hogwash”

Madhur Tankha
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Excavation being carried out under ruins of Raja Ram Baksh Singh fort

The Raja Ram Baksh Singh’s fort in Daundiya Kheda village of Unnao district in U.P.
The Raja Ram Baksh Singh’s fort in Daundiya Kheda village of Unnao district in U.P.

The Archaeological Survey of India on Saturday said it launched the massive excavation exercise in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh on the instructions of the Union Ministry of Culture, under whose jurisdiction it operates.

Speaking to The Hindu , ASI Additional Director-General (Archaeology) D. R. Mani said the ASI did not act on Shobhan Temple head priest Shobhan Sarkar’s dream that 1,000 tonnes of gold was lying buried under the ruins of the Raja Ram Baksh Singh’s fort in Daundiya Kheda village on the banks of the Ganga.

“It must be kept in mind by everyone that the ASI is a 150-year-old professional organisation. So, all the talk about the ASI acting on the dream of the head priest is nothing but hogwash. The truth is that the Union Culture Minister recently received a comprehensive report from the Geological Survey of India, which pointed to the presence of metals under the ruins,” said Dr. Mani. He said the Lucknow division of the ASI was doing a commendable job.

“We have a number of talented officials working under us. However, if we do not have an official in a particular discipline then we hire the services of an expert from overseas.”

Mr. Mani was evasive on whether the “possible” treasure belonged to ruler Raja Ram Baksh Singh, whose fort was razed by a British division during the First War of Independence.

“It remains to be seen, but history books do point to the fact that the British razed Raja Ram Baksh Singh’s fort in 1857. He was the last ruler. But the ASI is not interested in this project because of possible treasure hidden underneath. We are interested only because the site has historical significance.”

Meanwhile, noted archaeologist D. P. Sharma, who has worked with D. R. Mani and Syed Jamal Hasan of the ASI in the past, said 1,000 tonnes of metals could even be iron or silver.

“Dr. Mani and Dr. Hassan are top archaeologists of the country. The whole project is being executed under their supervision. The GSI geo-physical survey has pointed to the presence of metals. There are certainly metals as well as artefacts under the 18{+t}{+h}Century fort. The entire exercise would take 20 days.”


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