Three months ago, police dismissed as rumour news of villagers unearthing gold coins in Rajasthan’s Tonk district. That is till December 6, when the ASI found that two of the coins dated back to the 4th and 5th century. Startled, Tonk officials began conducting raids and imposed Section 144. But with only 27 stolen coins recovered, they have a long way to go
1. What triggered the gold rush in Janakipura village?
It all began as a rumour. Earlier, only one or two people visited the abandoned stone quarry out of curiosity. But word spread and large crowds, over 500 on some days, descended on the site in Janakipura village.
2. So what prompted the police to finally act?
On December 6, based on a tip-off, we recovered a gold coin from Jagdish Banjara, a 32-year-old utensil-seller from Janakipura. Banjara had sold the coin to Balram Soni, a jeweller, for Rs 1.8 lakh. We also seized a second coin from Soni. With his help, we managed to retrieve 10 more gold coins from locals.
We sent the first two coins to the Jaipur branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, which found that they dated back to Samudragupta (335-380AD). To control the situation at the quarry, we imposed Section 144 on December 5.
3. But what took the police so long to act?
Earlier, we did not have credible evidence to suggest that the coins were precious. But on realising the worth of the coins, we took swift action. We have been asking people to hand over the coins voluntarily as they belong to the government.
4. What is the situation at the site now?
Section 144 continues to be imposed. Five policemen, including a head constable, have been guarding the site. So far the villagers seem to be cooperating and some of them have returned the coins.
5. What do you plan to do in the future?
Based on tip-offs and voluntary disclosures, we have retrieved 27 coins so far. We are not sure of the number of coins that have been stolen. We have written to the ASI and expect them to start digging at the site soon.