The Congress’ Odisha unit said on Wednesday it will file a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to bring back the Kohinoor diamond from Britain and place it in the Jagannath temple in Puri.
“The Kohinoor diamond belongs to Lord Jagannath as Punjab’s Maharaja Ranjit Singh had wished to offer the precious diamond to the 12th century shrine before his death. So, we have decided to file a petition before the apex court, claiming Lord Jagannath’s ownership on the precious diamond,” state Congress president Prasad Harichandan said.
The Supreme Court has started hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to bring back the diamond to India.
Questioning the Odisha government’s silence on the issue, Harichandan urged the state assembly to pass a unanimous resolution to put pressure on the central government to give it to the 12th century shrine.
He also urged state MPs to raise the issue in Parliament and asked the Shree Jagannath Temple administration and state government to be intervenors in the case filed in the apex court.
He said a delegation of the Congress would meet officials at the external affairs ministry in May to press their demand for returning the diamond and place it at the Jagannath temple.
The 105-carat diamond is set in the crown of the British queen and is on display with the crown jewels in the Tower of London.
Harichandan said Maharaja Ranjit Singh had expressed his desire to offer the diamond to the Jagannath temple.
“The British, however, took away the diamond from Ranjit Singh’s son Duleep Singh, then a minor, in 1849,” said Harichandan.
He said the wish of Ranjit Singh is known in a letter sent by a political agent and commissioner to Peshawar to the officiating secretary of the Indian government in July 1839. The communique has been preserved at the National Archives in New Delhi.