Kohinoor issue: Sukhbir Badal asks SGPC to file caveat in SC

Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to file a caveat in the Supreme Court so that the committee could be heard before the court gives a judgment on the return of the Kohinoor diamond to India. "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," Jangveer Singh, media adviser to Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Badal, said here. "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," he said. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar had on Tuesday demanded that the Kohinoor be returned to the Sikh community as it was part of the Sikh kingdom in the 19th century. In another decision on this issue, the ruling Akali Dal decided that a deputation of party leaders 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 by the union culture ministry earlier this week on the Kohinoor. "The Akali Dal delegation will impress upon Sushma Swaraj that Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh sovereign ruler of Punjab, was robbed of the Kohinoor," a party statement said. "The Akali Dal 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 christened and that he had no option in the matter. "It cannot be regarded has being given as compensation or as a gift in any manner," the party said. "The party is confident that the Centre will rethink its stand on the issue as there was no doubt that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the absolute 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 righted by the return of the diamond to the Sikh community," the statement said. "To say that the Kohinoor was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away by the British but was given as a present by Maharaja Duleep Singh to the East India Company is a gross misrepresentation of historical facts. This stand seems to support the deceitful ways and means of the British," Makkar said in a statement. The 108-carat diamond was presented to the then British monarch, Queen Victoria, after the Anglo-Sikh wars, in which Britain gained control over the Sikh empire in the then undivided Punjab. The Kohinoor diamond, kept under tight security at the Tower of London, is claimed by India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.