Andhra Pradesh

Treasure hunter gang that dug 300-ft tunnel arrested

Uncovering the tricks: Umamaheswara Rao explaining their treasure hunt operation .

Uncovering the tricks: Umamaheswara Rao explaining their treasure hunt operation .   | Photo Credit: Kommuri Srinivas

Accused were in search of ancient idols in Prakasam district

The police nabbed a gang of treasure hunters and two self-styled gurujis on the charges of carrying out blasts and illegally digging a tunnel in search of ancient idols in the Puliguha hillocks near Kocharlakota village in Donakonda mandal in Prakasam district on Friday.

The main accused Surasani Ravindra Reddy was arrested along with his supervisors, explosives suppliers, financiers and other accomplices.

Siddhanti Bandi Umamaheswara Rao of Ajitsinghnagar, Vijayawada, and Doddala Dharmendra alias Guruji Rayudu of Mangalagiri town were held on the charges of cheating and conspiring with the gangsters to launch the treasure hunt.

SP B. Satya Yesu Babu said that 175 kg of gelatin sticks, 91 electrical detonators, drilling machines, 10 kg ammonium nitrate, two generators and one compressor tractor were seized from the arrested.The gangsters had dug up a 300-ft tunnel in the hillocks in search of hidden treasure when the police unearthed their illegal activity. When the local cattle grazers questioned them about the blasts, the gangsters had claimed that it was for the sake of testing quality of rocks there.

Lure of easy money

Ravindra Reddy masterminded the treasure hunt after his growing debts forced him to look for ways of making easy money.

A native of Madavaram village in Kanigiri mandal, Ravindra Reddy studied Agricultural MBA in Uttaranchal and rose up to the position of country manager at an agro-products company earning up to ₹30 lakh per year. Because of his increasing interest in commodities trading and real estate, he quit his job. He soon started losing heavily and accumulated ₹1 crore debts. At this time, he consulted a self-styled guruji, Umamaheswara Rao, and spent nearly ₹47 lakh for conducting pujas and finding treasures. Mr. Reddy later met ‘Guruji’ Rayudu and believed in his story that while conducting some elaborate pujas, he saw valuable ancient idols of gods and goddesses kept in seven underground rooms in Puliguha hillocks.They began digging with the help of explosives and nearly 50 labourers, who were asked to wake up early, have a bath and keep lemons in their pockets while taking part in the excavation works.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 10:54:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/treasure-hunter-gang-that-dug-300-ft-tunnel-arrested/article19894361.ece

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