Showing in Uttar Pradesh village Unnao: Story of a big treasure hunt

ASIPeople gather to view excavation at the fort of Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh Friday. Photo: Vishal Srivastav

It was Peepli Live playing out in real life in this small village in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh on Friday. Hundreds of people thronged the village and nearly two dozen OB vans lined up for live coverage as the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) began the excavation process for hidden gold treasure at the remains of the Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh fort.

The excavation was initiated after a local seer, Shobhan Sarkar, 'dreamt' of hidden gold treasure in the remains of the fort.

However, ASI officials refused to comment on Sarkar's 'dream' and presence of gold. "We have not come here for gold. We do not undertake any operations on the basis of any dream. We are following our norms, I cannot commit any time frame," said P K Mishra, Superintendent, ASI, Lucknow.

With a team of 12 persons, only six inches digging could be done in a 10X10 metre trench on day one.

As the excavation began, people from adjoining villages surrounded the fort, latching on to every piece of information — true or false — that came their way. Several temporary edible stalls also mushroomed in no time, selling food items. A motorcycle showroom owner also exploited the opportunity, setting up a stall displaying 10 new bikes and offering discounts.

The narrow brick road leading to Dondiya Kheda, which usually hardly attracts any traffic, was choked with vehicles, forcing police to make parking arrangements nearly 500 metres from the site.

Due to the heavy rush, a three-tier security system was followed. "We have put barricades at three places. All are requested to follow them. No one will be allowed inside the fort at the excavation site," said Sonia Singh, SP, Unnao.

Police had to chase the villagers away after every few minutes as they moved towards the site. Local MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of Samajwadi Party was also there. "Everything is fine and it will be done," he said.

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