THE BJP’s alliance partner in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Wednesday asked the apex representative body of the Sikhs, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
(SGPC), to file a caveat in the Supreme Court to claim that diamond “rightfully” belongs to the SGPC and should be returned by the UK.
On Monday, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar had told the Supreme Court that the Kohinoor was neither “forcibly taken nor stolen” by the British rulers, but given as “gift” to East India Company by rulers of Punjab. Amid criticism, the Centre Tuesday said “it reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor diamond in an amicable manner.”
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal urged SGPC to file a caveat in the Supreme Court so that it could be heard before the court passes judgment on a PIL demanding the return of the Kohinoor to India.
Sukhbir’s media adviser Jangveer Singh said the SGPC would represent the Sikh community in the PIL and demand that the diamond, which is presently a part of the crown jewels of the Queen of England, be returned to the religious body. He said this assertion was being made on the basis that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the head of a Khalsa Raj. “In the absence of any such system now, the SGPC is the representative of the Sikh community to which the diamond rightfully belongs,” Jangveer said.
A SAD deputation will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to make a representation on behalf of the Sikh community to highlight the “wrong version given to the court earlier”. It welcomed the fact that the External Affairs ministry will now file a response on this issue in six weeks. The SAD delegation is likely to impress upon Sushma that Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh sovereign ruler of Punjab, was “robbed of” the Kohinoor.
“The SAD feels this aspect has not been appropriately put before the apex court. The party will present the facts of the case to the External Affairs ministry detailing how the Maharaja was forced to present the Kohinoor to Queen Victoria after being Christianised and that he had no option in the matter. It therefore cannot be regarded has being given as compensation or as a gift in any manner,” a statement by SAD alleged.
“The SAD is confident that the Centre will rethink its stand on the issue as there was no doubt that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the owner of the Kohinoor and that after its death it was taken away by the British in a deceitful manner. It feels this wrong can only be set right by the return of the diamond to the Sikh community,” the statement read.