Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Treasure hunt in Hyderabad: State Archaeology department digs up school in search of a tunnel with suspected treasure trove

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  The State Archaeology Department will continue with
the excavation work on the premises of a school in Saifabad on Monday
in search of a supposedly hidden treasure. The department launched the
operation treasure hunt on Sunday morning, but could dig up only two
feet by 4.00 pm.

As the manual excavation was going on at a snail’s pace, officials
pressed into service an earthmover in the evening. Another two feet
was dug up by 9.00 pm when the work was called off for the day. The
work will resume on Monday morning. Sunday’s excavation site is about
10 metres away from the original site selected on Saturday evening.
Mallesh, the mason, who claims he had seen the treasure, guided the
officials to the spot.

Meanwhile, the group of nine prominent citizens, which submitted a
sworn affidavit to the archaeology department about the alleged
treasure, continued to maintain that four of them had entered the
tunnel that led them to an iron gate. Mallesh said he saw the treasure
hidden in two almirahs, while the petitioners said they did not go
beyond the iron gate.

Coal India official DS Rama Raju, one of the signatories of the affidavit,
told this correspondent that he and others had in fact gone into the
tunnel. “The entrance is quite narrow. A few steps down the ground led
us to a tunnel where we saw an iron gate. We did not venture beyond
this point. Unfortunately, we did not mark the place. It is on the
hill side and excavation along the rocky terrain on the school
premises will definitely lead to the tunnel,” Raju said.

Asked if he had seen the treasure, Raju said “no”, but maintained, “we
would know whether there’s treasure only after we open the iron gate.”
However, he is confident that there is hidden treasure as Mallesh and
other masons had “seen with their own eyes”. The archaeology
department is also planning to contact some of the masons, who were
involved in the construction of a hotel nearby. During the digging
work, the mason along with Mallesh reportedly saw the treasure. That
all the signatories and Mallesh stayed at the site all through the day
gives credence to their statement about the treasure, a senior
official of the department said.

The police made elaborate security arrangement at the school premises
as hundreds of people gathered there to witness the excavation. The
police had a hectic time controlling the surging crowds.

Officials encountered loose soil at the excavation site. It is
suspected that someone might have entered the tunnel recently and
covered it up. If the mason and other “eyewitnesses” fail to locate
the exact spot where they had seen the tunnel, the excavation may go
on for at least a week.

There are city records that a cave existed in the area and it was
covered up with soil, as it had no historical or archaeological
significance. The area around is famous for the bunkers built during
the world war II. Similar treasure excavations in the area in the past
yielded only empty iron almirahs.

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