Two men are seen pushing and destroying erect pillars at the site of temple ruins. The video looks like a recording of an Instagram story. This went viral when a man named Ayush Sahu posted the story claiming that the two men were pushing down the pillars at Hampi, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The video, which went viral on Friday, angered the locals and several people took to the streets on Saturday morning, demanding that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) take greater care of heritage sites.
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times had declared Hampi as the second most desirable place to visit in its list of the top 52 tourist destinations in the world for 2019. Speaking to TNM, Shamaa, a resident of Hampi, said that the video was circulating on WhatsApp since Friday morning.
"The ruins are located behind the Lotus Mahal. It is the remnants of a Vishnu Temple. We inspected the spot today (Saturday) and the pillars were on the ground," the Hampi Police said.
However, the ASI officials, on Saturday filed a complaint with the Hampi Police, stating that the video was shot a year ago and asked the police to take quick action.
"ASI officials are saying the video was shot a year ago. But several locals claim that they saw the pillars erect three days before the video went viral. We are in the process of registering an FIR against the miscreants and we will launch a speedy investigation into the matter," the Hampi Police told TNM.
The Vijayanagara Smaraka Samskrithi Samrakshana Sene (VSSS) on Saturday staged a protest demanding proper protection for the monuments. "No one cares about the monuments here. Two to three years ago, someone damaged pillars at Achyutha Raya Bazaar. The ASI does not care about these structures either. In fact, ASI is responsible for damaging the pillars at the Virupaksha Bazaar," said Vishwanath Malagi, convenor of VSSS.
Vishwanath alleges that the ASI is claiming that the video is old only to escape the charges of negligence.
"There is the State Archaeology Department, Archaeological Survey of India and Hampi World Heritage Management Authority. All of them are just cooling their heels. No one is bothered about the monuments. If the ASI knew that the video was shot a year ago, why did they not report it and file a police complaint then? They are only trying to protect themselves as they are to blame for negligence. We should have a special DySP to keep track of those who damage these monuments. Crimes like destruction of heritage structures are not taken seriously. They think it’s the same as a minor traffic violation, which can be rectified with a warning," he added.
He also insisted that the government must spread more awareness regarding the importance of a heritage structure.