Politics clouds gold hunt in Uttar Pradesh - The New Indian Express

Politics clouds gold hunt in Uttar Pradesh

Published: 26th October 2013 02:02 PM

Last Updated: 26th October 2013 02:02 PM

The search for the fabled 1,000 tonnes of gold buried in a fort here has so far led to only broken bangles and earthen pottery, but politicians are having a field day.

People are still waiting with fingers crossed as the gold hunt continues in the village of Daundiya Kheda, some 100 km from Lucknow, the state capital. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials supervising the excavation, now over seven feet deep, say that not much has been unearthed in the area.

But there is plenty of fireworks.

Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav has filed a police complaint against Swami Omji, a disciple of Shobhan Sarkar -- the Hindu holy man who dreamt of a gold treasure, leading to the massive excavation.

The religious leader's supporters burnt Yadav's effigy.

"Swamy Omji is a holy man. How can Sharad Yadav sully his image?" asked the head of Beeghapur village.

Swamy Omji earlier courted controversy when he told journalists that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was a 'jhooth ka saudagar' (a liar).

The BJP promptly dug out his past to claim that Swamy Omji was a Youth Congress activist in the 90's.

Laxmikant Bajpayi, the state president of the BJP, accused Omji of being "a Congress worker".

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has, however, lauded the holy man for dreaming about the alleged hidden treasure under the fort.

Brijesh Pathak, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP from Unnao, says he is keeping a tab on the developments.

Two court cases against Omji have been lodged in Varanasi and Lucknow, accusing him of promoting superstition and misleading society.

In his petition, Kamlesh Chandra Tripathi, a lawyer from Varanasi, said that ASI officials had gone against science by acting on the holy man's dream.

"The seer should be punished under 295 (A) and 298 of the Indian Penal Code," the petitioner says.

Another case has been filed in Lucknow. Union minister and Congress leader Charan Das Mahant has been named in the complaint. The next date of hearing is Nov 11.

Modi last week faulted the central government for ordering the digging under the dilapidated fort of the former ruler of Unnao, Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh.

He said it would have been better had the government chased black money stashed away in Swiss banks instead.

He, however, retracted later and tweeted that he had "immense respect for Shobhan Sarkar, his tapasyaa and tyaag".

If all this wasn't enough, Buddhist monks have claimed the excavation site to be a Buddhist hub.

Lalji Prasad Nirmal, president of the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Mahasabha, says they will march to the village Oct 26 to meet the district magistrate and stake their claim.

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