The mystery surrounding the disappearance and desecration of a 13th century ‘Hero Stone’ in Goa’s Sattari taluka has deepened due to alleged apathy of the State Archives and Archeology department, which has failed to submit its report, sought by the police in the case.
The Hero Stone dating back to Kadamba era, attains utmost significance in heritage circles, as it is among the few sculptures, honoring the ‘death of a hero’ in the battle.
Crime Branch, probing the disappearance and desecration of Hero Stone from Nagvem village in Sattari, has said that the Archives and Archeology department is delaying the experts report sought from them almost three months back in December.
“We had asked the archeological expert to certify that the stone pieces that are recovered were actually part of the Hero Stone. Also we are expecting that the experts will help us to know what could be the motive behind such an act,” a senior Crime Branch official said.
On September 14 last year, some heritage lovers who were trekking the jungles of Sattari found that the Hero Stone was missing. The disappearance shocked the heritage activists, who sought investigation into the matter. Few days later, the stone was found broken into four pieces, in the same jungle.
Goa Heritage Action Group (GHAG) had taken the matter very seriously and had even petitioned State Governor Dr S S Sidhu seeking his directives to police for probing the matter.
The Hero Stone was worshipped by local nomadic ‘Gauli’ community, who were stunned by the act of miscreants to touch the stone, which is one-metre-long and heavy to be lifted.
GHAG activist Prajal Sakhardande said that they are still waiting for crime branch investigations to pinpoint to the accused.
The stone slab locally known as ‘Veer gal’ was erected in memory of a local hero who sacrificed his life in a battle. It also had a funeral scene which showed the unsung hero’s body with his wife poised to jump onto her husband’s pyre.
The heritage activists are apprehensive that the Hero Stone disappearance and later its desecration is an attempt by antique smugglers, who are eyeing on the unsecured old objects scattered across the state.
Sakhardande said that state government’s lethargy in notifying such important monuments are giving a free hand to these anti social elements.
He alleged that there is organised antique smuggling racket in Goa which needs to be tracked down and busted.
“All the unnotified sculptures and other antiquities are in grave danger and it is time for the government to act and put to end the loss of this treasure,” Sakhardande added.