IN SEARCH OF LOSTTREASURE
Excavation for the gold in Dhaundiya Kheda began on October 18
Village and a site in the neighbouring district of Fatehpur. Sarkar apparently informed the Government via Mahant, by now his point man in Delhi, that “another 4,000 tons of solid gold” was there for the taking.
The godman’s new claims fuelled fresh rumours. Crazed crowds dug up nearly two dozen old, unused temples and fortresses along the Ganga. At the main ghat of the river near Fatehpur, armed men reportedly held the priest hostage for several hours while they dug 15 feet under a local shrine.
But back in Dhaundiya Kheda and scores of Kanpur and Unnao villages, the fables surrounding Shobhan Sarkar grow more fantastic with every passing day. “He can recognise a man standing six kilometres away,” says one devotee. Another joins in with, “he once shook a Peepul tree and there were currency notes falling all over the place.” There is more, though mostly the usual talk of never-seen miracles and miracle-cures pulled off by self-styled god men. Firm attestation comes from 45-year-old Ram Bahadur Singh, a Dhaundiya Kheda farmer who has been a disciple since he was a child: “Sarkar has never been to Delhi but he knows everything that goes on there.”
Delhi’s motives in provoking the gold rush on the banks of the Ganga are evidently dubious and widely seen as a bizarre leap of faith with an eye on the 2014 General Elections. But it is not just Congress that is out to please the seer. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s advisor Sunil Yadav has been making regular visits to the ashram to seek Sarkar’s blessings for “a sizable share of the treasure for Uttar Pradesh.” Swami Om told reporters that the Samajwadi Party government has agreed to carve the area into “a brand new district.”
But perhaps the most telling image of Shobhan Sarkar’s growing aura was on display at the Buxar ashram on October 21. “Modiji ke mann mein aapke kiye kewal aadar hai (Modiji has nothing but respect for you),” says Satish Mahana, the BJP legislator from Kanpur, holding his ears in remorse for Narendra Modi’s “inadvertent” mockery of the seer’s dream. Follow the writers on Twitter For more pictures of the Gold Rush, go to www.indiatoday.in/gangagold
The ancient Shiv temple at Dhaundiya Kheda is about 100-150 metres from the excavation site FORTRESS
UTTAR PRADESH Excavation
Site G A N G E S Shobhan Sarkar's ashram