It all started with the dream of a certain Shobhan Sarkar, a much-respected local seer with many followers in the locality of the Sangrampur (Daundia Khera) village in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. As claimed by Sarkar, his dream revealed the precise location of over 1,000 tonnes of gold entrenched under the ruins of a 19th century fort belonging to one Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh, a mid 19th century ruler. In fact, Sarkar was quite serious about this dream and underlined the fact that His Highness Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh himself appeared in his dreams and instructed him to recover the buried treasure. The dream of Sarkar appears to have some historical significance, though very sketchy. There was indeed a Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh in the said region, who met his demise possibly during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, fighting the British soldiers. While Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh was a martyr of the Sepoy Mutiny, it is a fact that Daundia Khera has a historical past dating back to the Mughal era or possibly older. It was once the capital of the Bais Rajputs, who were ancient Hindu warriors noted for their valor, wealth and lavishness. These facts were confirmed by Sir Alexander Cunningham, founder of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), who first identified Daundia Khera as a historical spot.
After the dream
Sarkar, realizing that he has dreamt about a national treasure, did not keep the secret to himself. Being a model and exemplary citizen, he first approached the local administration and the state authorities, who dismissed it as after-effects of opium. However, Sarkar seemed to have a turn of luck when the Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing, Charan Das Mahant, bought his story and actually visited the locale. Mahant was informed about the buried treasure and the dream of Shobhan Sarkar by a priest who frequents this place on a regular basis. The said priest also mentioned to Mahant the urgency of a visit, as expressed by Sarkar. As per the statements of Charan Das Mahant, after his visit to the site on 22nd September and 7th October, 2013, and after meeting Sarkar, “He told me that Shobhan Sarkar wanted to meet me. When I met him, he told me about the reserves. He said that the quantity was so huge that if the government can excavate it, it could be handy since there was a crisis with the rupee. Mahant added, “I was surprised. I then wrote to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Home Minister and Mines Minister and related departments such as the ASI and the Geological Survey of India about the reserves. I informed Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi too about it”. Mahant further informed that the survey of the Mines Ministry conducted in the said area indeed confirmed traces of gold. The chief of the village, Ajay Pal Singh, lost no time in furnishing a long list of demands if the excavation proved to be a fruitful one. The demands range from medical college, girls’ college to secure government jobs for one family member of each family in the village.
The Actions of Charan Das Mahant and the consequences
Charan Das Mahant seems to have an unshakeable faith in Shobhan Sarkar’s dream, as evident from his directions to the ASI to start an excavation project in the said site. ASI has visited the site three times and the responsibility of mapping the site has been entrusted to the Geological Survey of India (GSI). Meanwhile, the Unnao District Magistrate, V. K. Anand, updated Shobhan Sarkar regarding the developments. An associate of Sarkar, a certain Swami Om, produced evidence which according to Sarkar, is indicative of the presence of gold in the said site. Sarkar met Mahant in New Delhi and proposed to cut a deal where upon recovery of the said gold, 20% has to be utilized for the overall improvement of the Buxar region while the rest belongs to the government. He also convinced Mahant to direct the ASI for a proposed excavation in the said area.
The role of the ASI and the excavation of ‘dream gold’
On October 18th, 2013, ASI officially started excavation of the site proposed to have a buried gold reserve worth around USD 40 billion. This is the first time that ASI has departed from its practice of conducting a thorough research before giving a green light to an excavation project. Undoubtedly, a strong political presence has compelled ASI to resort to such an excavation. As per the treasure map of the seer’s dream, ASI is supposed to excavate an area demarcated by the shadow cast by a temple in the vicinity. The plans are to dig up a 200-square-metre area adjacent to the temple. However, ASI confirmed that the project is definitely not a result of the dream of some seer. Director General B. R. Mani confirmed that a GSI survey report also indicated presence of precious metal under the said site. Mani, however, expressed his reservations regarding a positive recovery of gold. Underlining the uncertainty of the gold booty, he further mentioned that such excavations often yielded antiquated potteries, kitchenware and agricultural tools from the bowels of the earth.
Political reactions to the ASI excavation
The political leaders seem to have mixed reactions regarding this excavation of the ASI. The Congress has openly advocated the efforts of excavation, as evident from the statement of Congress Spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury, delivered to the reporters on October 18, 2013. She stated, “There is no harm if the country benefits from it. […] The Geological Survey of India said there is some metal underneath the temple. What actually is there will be known only after digging”. However, BJP leader Narendra Modi was quite sarcastic about the excavations, as indicated by his address to the BJP workers, “The Government has started to dig for some 1,000 tonnes of gold, after somebody dreamt of it. You bring back the money that the looters have stashed in the Swiss Banks. That would be more than the value of a 1000 tonnes of gold”.
Only the results of the ASI excavation will decide decide whether this project is a wild goose chase or not. But the sanctioning of this excavation project of the ASI by the government reeks of desperation. The same government which is supposed to send a space vehicle to the Mars is now clutching at the straws by ordering ASI to undertake a treasure hunt based mostly on the dreams of a seer.
I have a query: how was this figure of 1,000 tonnes arrived at? I am sure Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh was not familiar with the metric system. So is it Shobhan Sarkar himself, who took the pain of crunching the numbers and arriving at this figure? I wish His Highness Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh himself was assisting ASI in this treasure hunt! I also miss Mr. John Mackenna, who was just the right person, to spearhead such a treasure hunt.