Kohinoor should be brought back: OPCC chief

Bhubaneswar: Criticising the Odisha government for its silence on the famous Kohinoor diamond, Congress today asked for its intervention in adopting a resolution in the Assembly seeking steps to bring back the diamond and offer it to Lord Jagannath Temple as per the last wish of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

“We are anguished that Odisha government is silent on the sensitive issue of Kohinoor as its last owner Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab had willed the diamond to be given to the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan told reporters here.

Asking the Naveen Patnaik government to intervene immediately in the matter, he said, “Sincere efforts must be made and a government resolution be passed unanimously during the current session of Assembly and sent to the Centre seeking concrete steps to get back the diamond and offer it to the Lord.”

Asserting that the diamond “rightfully” belongs to Lord Jagannath Temple, the OPCC Chief said this wish of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was known from a letter sent by the political agent and commissioner to Peshawar to the officiating secretary of the government of India with the Right Honourable the Governor General on July 2, 1839.

Noting that the communique has been preserved at the National Archives in New Delhi, Harichandan released copies of the letter and said the demand for bringing Kohinoor diamond to India had earlier been raised by Congress in 2013 and before Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar festival in 2015.

A PIL relating to Kohinoor was pending in the Supreme Court, the Congress leader said, adding that it also planned to become a party in the case besides gearing up to take up the issue with the External Affairs Ministry next month to ensure that the last wish of the King was fulfilled.

He said that the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration should also become a party in the matter and a post card campaign would be launched urging all sections of society to write to the President and the Prime Minister on the issue.

Slamming the Union government for its stand on the issue, Harichandan said it was alleged that as per an understanding, India would not stake claim to Kohinoor diamond, 108.93 carat of which is now in the Tower of London and the rest in British Queen’s crown.

No one has so far denied the allegation, he said.

The OPCC Chief said it was not appropriate on the part of the Union government to tell the Supreme Court that Kohinoor was neither “forcibly taken” nor “stolen” by the British rulers.

Harichandan said the British had forced Ranjit Singh’s successor Duleep Singh, then a minor, to part with Kohinoor in Lahore in 1849.