AT Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, a gold hunt proved futile as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) called off its digging that was started following a priest’s claim that he had dreamt of a treasure beneath an old fort. Far away in West Bengal, even six months after a rare find from the Gupta era, the ASI is yet to act.
Six months back, news channels flashed the discovery of 11 gold coins, thought to be belonging to the Gupta era (320 AD-550 AD), at Ahiran, 265 km from Murshidabad. The discovery made headlines in newspapers, but the ASI remained unaware of the fact.
Last week, ASI director (eastern region) Phanikant Mishra made enquiries from his juniors if they knew about the coins and when the answer was negative, wrote a letter to Murshidabad SP Humayun Kabir demanding to know what had happened and why he was not informed. Meanwhile, the 11 gold coins, each weighing about 10-12 gm, have been kept in an aluminium tiffin box at Suti Police station in Murshidabad.
“We are worried about the safety of these priceless objects and we have written to the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums to take them from here but they did not do anything so far,’’ Humayun Kabir told The Indian Express.
It was the directorate under the Department of Information and Culture of the state that first rushed to the place when the coins began to be found on May 31 at Ahiran village where NH-34 was being expanded. Soil dug out of mounds at Sealkali in Mirzapur, 15 km away, was brought to lay the road. On May 31 a village woman first saw a coin and took it home and as news spread people came and more coins were found. The police were informed and a team from Suti police station raided the village at Ahiran and recovered 11 coins. However according to unofficial reports, at least 30 coins were recovered and some of them were smuggled out to Bangladesh which is just 10 km away.
“After we got to know about the find, we got in touch with the administration and rushed there. Our team went to Mirzapur and saw the place at Sealkali where the top soil, about 9-foot high, was dug out. For digging, we need more exploration and we are doing exactly that,’’ Gautam Sengupta, department’s director, said.