Unnao (Uttar Pradesh): In a bizarre exercise, archaeologists on Friday began digging for a treasure of 1,000 tonnes of gold supposed to be buried under the ruins of a 19th century fort on the basis of a seer`s dream.
Watched by hundreds of onlookers, the excavation work was being carried out amid tight security at the fort of former King Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh in Unnao`s Daudiakala village in Uttar Pradesh by a 12-member team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) led by its Deputy Director P K Mishra.
The gold rush was triggered after a seer Shoban Sarkar claimed that the Raja had appeared to him in a dream and told him that 1,000 tonnes of gold lay buried in its ruins.
The Raja, who was hanged in 1858 after rising up against the Britishers, appeared in the dream of the seer and told him to take care of the gold treasure buried in the remains of the late king`s fort, said Swami Omji, a follower of Sarkar.
Mishra told reporters that ASI began the excavation work on the basis of the findings of a report by GSI.
To a query whether the decision for excavation was taken on the basis of the seer`s dream, he said, "Actually a report by the GSI suggested that there may be gold or silver there. On the basis of findings of the report we have started the excavation and results will come soon."
But the excavation exercise on the basis of a dream was mocked at with Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP`s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi leading the charge.
"The whole world is laughing at us over this bizarre exercise.
"Somebody dreamt and the government has launched an excavation... The money hidden by thieves and looters of India in foreign banks is much more than 1000 tonnes of gold. If you (government) bring back that money, you won`t have to do digging for gold (in Unnao),"Modi said at a rally in Chennai.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury called it strange and said it is not right to dig up some place to find hidden treasure on the basis of someone`s dream. "What is going on is something we have never heard of before," he said.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had a funny take on the excavation work, saying he wants every state of the district to yield a treasure and people to be happy.
As large crowds gathered around the fort, the district administration clamped prohibitory orders in Unnao to prevent any untoward incident. Barricades were also erected.
District Magistrate Vijay Kiran Anand said the excavation work would take at least a month to complete.
Sarkar earlier performed "boomi pujan" and marked the points to be excavated by the ASI team. After this ritual, Anand formally kick-started the digging work.