Four youths, who vandalised a portion of the UNESCO heritage site at Hampi in Karnataka and were tracked down by police using an Instagram post, have been fined Rs 70,000 each and asked to participate in Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) restoration of the five stone pillars they damaged.
Ayush Sahu, Rajababu Choudry, Raja Aryan Choudry and Rajeskumar Choudari were arrested by Bellary police last week after a video of the vandalism went viral and the ASI lodged a complaint with the police.
An investigation revealed that the youths committed the vandalism on a visit to Hampi in January and posted a video of their act on Instagram. “We found a phone number linked to the account using which the video was posted and this led us to the suspects,’’ Bellary SP Arun Rangarajan said.
An analysis of call data records and location details of the cell number showed its presence in Hampi in January, but the number was switched off after the video of the vandalism went viral. Police then started looking at the number’s SMS record and most frequently contacted numbers and managed to obtain the identity of two of the youths. A package delivery message from an e-commerce site provided address of one of the youths.
The police found the uncle of one of the suspects at the address and then tracked the youths who had gone into hiding. Police said the youths hail from Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. They were arrested on February 8 and presented in the court of the principal civil judge and JMFC Hospet. The four pleaded guilty, offered to pay a fine and help in restoration of the vandalised site, superintending archaeologist for Hampi region Kalimuth said.
“Convicted on pleading guilty/ plea bargaining. A-1 to A-4 shall pay the fine of Rs 70,000 each,’’ the JMFC court said in its order disposing the case on February 14.