IN SEARCH OF LOSTTREASURE

Ex­ca­va­tion for the gold in Dhaun­diya Kheda be­gan on Oc­to­ber 18

India Today - - NATION - @Asitjolly and @ashudj

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

DA Y TO MA IL c: phi Gra

The an­cient Shiv tem­ple at Dhaun­diya Kheda is about 100-150 me­tres from the ex­ca­va­tion site FORTRESS

RU­INS Dhaun­diya

Kheda

Raja's me­mo­rial

UTTAR PRADESH Ex­ca­va­tion

Site G A N G E S Shob­han Sarkar's ashram

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