September 22, 2020

Social media rumours halt excavation

Lakhisarai: Alleged rumour mongering on social media has halted excavation work at Jainagar Lali Pahari in Lakhisarai township.

Lal Pahari, named so because of the red colour of its stones, shows settlements from ancient to medieval period and is expected to yield remains of a Buddhist monastery.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had granted Vijoy Kumar Choudhary, executive director of Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti, and Anil Kumar, associate professor of ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology, at Visva-Bharati University the licence to excavate the site.

Anil, who is supervising the excavation here, has demanded immediate arrest of those involved in spreading the rumours. He told The Telegraph from Santiniketan, around 160km north of Calcutta, on Saturday that on Friday messages stating that huge gold coins, gold pottery and other valuable treasures had surfaced at the site, went viral on WhatsApp and Facebook and people started rushing to the site in the hope of getting some valuable things.

“The situation was beyond control and we immediately informed professor Anil Kumar,” said a student from Visva-Bharati University.

“I immediately decided to stop excavation work and informed local police besides the chief minister and other people concerned,” Anil said.

Tonmoy Mandal, a student of Visva-Bharati University lodged an FIR at Kabaiya police station in Lakhisarai against a cellphone number (9852746289) for spreading the rumours. “Earlier we faced hurdles from people who did not want development and prosperity. They tried to create public nuisance and there is a direct threat to the lives of the students,” Anil said.

Anil said excavation work would not resume till the people were arrested.

Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti president Bijay Choudhary condemned the incident and urged the government to take action against such people.

Earlier, chief minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated the excavation works jointly initiated by Visva-Bharati University and Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti on November 25, 2017. Lakhisarai was an administrative centre in the early medieval period and Jainagar Lali Pahari one of the capitals during the Pala dynasty, which had its kingdom here.

Arvind Thakur, superintendent of police, Lakhisarai, on Saturday said: “On the basis of the complaint, the police have identified the mobile number owner as Santosh Kumar, a resident of Lakhisarai. A special team has been assigned to arrest Santosh.”

“Criminals are against the development of Lakhisarai. The excavation would change the fate of this district. Lakhisarai has the potential to be on the world tourism map with these valuable old historical edifices,” said Kabita Kumari, a college student.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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