Now, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has staked a claim to the Kohinoor diamond, saying Sikhs are its “legitimate owners” and it should be returned to the religious body.
The SGPC has claimed that the diamond was taken away through “deceitful means” by the British from Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh ruler of Punjab.
In a statement issued here on Tuesday, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar expressed surprise over the Centre’s stand on the issue in the Supreme Court on Monday, where it said India should not stake claim to the Kohinoor as the Maharaja had gifted it to the British government. He said the Centre should rethink its stand.
“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,” he said.
Makkar said Maharaja Duleep Singh was just nine when the Kohinoor was taken away from him at Lahore. “Even if the Maharaja himself had parted with the diamond, we cannot ignore the ways and means the British must have employed to secure it,” he said, while calling upon the Centre not to create obstacles in the efforts being made by certain individuals and organisations to get the diamond back.
“In fact, not just the Kohinoor but other precious items in the possession of Sikhs, like the jewelled Peacock throne, were taken away from Lahore after the fall of Ranjit Singh’s empire. We must demand all such items back,” he added.
Maharaja’s ‘descendant’ wants Kohinoor back
Local resident Sukhdev Singh Sandhanwalia, claiming to be a descendant of Maharaja Duleep Singh, said the Solicitor General of India had presented wrong facts before the Supreme Court and belittled the rights of Sikhs to get back the Kohinoor.
In a statement issued here, he said the Maharaja’s descendants had repeatedly demanded the return of the Kohinoor. He said that in 1997, his father Beant Singh had met Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the Golden Temple and given her a written representation demanding the Kohinoor and all such precious items that were taken away by the British from Lahore.
“Our fight for justice, to bring back the Kohinoor to Harmandar Sahib will continue. Kohinoor is not merely a bright stone, it’s a monument of hope, dignity and justice, which would only be served by its return to its rightful place in Amritsar,” he said.