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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Widespread and violent search for gold in Unnao

Haider Naqvi and Gulam Jeelani , Hindustan Times  Kanpur/Lucknow, October 21, 2013
First Published: 23:29 IST(21/10/2013) | Last Updated: 23:55 IST(22/10/2013)

This is something that the seer Shobhan Sarkar, who had a dream about gold lying beneath the earth in Daundia Kheda village of Unnao district, did not expect.

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His dream has travelled so far that it is not just the prime ministerial nominee of the BJP and the Uttar Pradesh chief minister who are talking about it.

In Unnao, people are at the throat of experts of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and are asking them to throw away the spades and shovels while hunting for gold and use JCB machines instead.

At other places, people haven’t waited for the ASI to come into the picture. They have taken up excavation on their own in Adampur, where relics have been damaged and people injured in the process. Two priests of the historical Shiv temple — Mohan Dass and Ram Dutt — were held at gunpoint, beaten up and left bound and gagged.

Overnight, the temple, the fort and Shiv Chabutara were dug up for gold. When the situation threatened to get out of hand, an armed police contingent was deployed to keep the gold diggers at bay.

“That Adampur has the treasure of the King of Reeva is known for long. Baba’s (Sarkar’s) prophecy has given it confirmation. Strangers are stalking the place. We are scared,” says Dharmendra Singh Deepu, a local.

In the places named by Sarkar, rituals related to exorcism have taken place for gold. Havans were organised in Kanpur Dehat and Unnao to make sure the seer’s revelation held ground. “Baba is way off the world’s pleasures, he works for the people. He cannot be doubted,” says Hari Ram Verma, a farmer in Dandia Kheda, Unnao.

Unlike other Uttar Pradesh villages, today Daundia Kheda, 100 km southwest of Lucknow, on the banks of the Ganga, is more known for all this than the fact that its 469 households have no electricity connection. No wonder therefore, the resulting media hustle-bustle going on there, if adapted by a filmmaker, could easily give Anusha Rizvi’s famed ‘Peepli live’ a run for TRPs.

“I never wanted a media hype. I just had a divine message, which I conveyed to the minister in Delhi. If the gold is not found, I am aware of the repercussions. But I don’t mind landing behind bars,” said Sarkar on Friday, the day the ASI began excavation at the site.

Politicians are getting caught in the maelstrom.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, at a Chennai rally on Thursday mocked the Congress for supposedly instigating the hunt for gold. Quick to respond, Sarkar shot off a letter, hitting out at Modi.

Even Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav wished every district of the state had such gold treasure. He sent his emissary Sunil Yadav, his advisor with minister rank, to meet the seer a day before the digging started.

“It shows how even politicians are driven my myths and superstitions in these trying times. Raja Ram Baksh (who came to the seer in his dream) was not as big a king as to possess 1,000 tonnes of gold. Even if he had why would he leave it there? He lived for a year after leaving the palace,” said DP Tiwari, former head of Lucknow University’s history department.

One thing in all this is certain: The villagers have a firm belief that the seer’s dream will come true.

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