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Kohinoor diamond is the only talk in museum of last Sikh ruler

'Now the moment visitors enter the museum, the first thing they want to know is the Kohinoor story.'

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Raikot(ludhiana) | Published: April 27, 2016 10:11 am
kohinoor, kohinoor controversy, kohinoor punjab, maharaj duleep singh, punjab kohinoor, duleep singh museum, punjab news, india news Visitors at Maharaja Duleep Singh Museum, Bassian Kothi, near Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

The Maharaja Duleep Singh Museum is finally getting visitors, thanks to the controversy over the Kohinoor diamond.

The museum, which was getting only 25 visitors a day on a usual weekday, was surprised to see 70 visitors stream last Tuesday, a day after the Centre told the Supreme Court that the diamond was gifted to the British, said Parminder Singh Jatpuri, general secretary, Maharaja Duleep Singh Memorial trust.

A replica of the diamond has been displayed at the Punjab government-run museum, which was inaugurated last May, but struggled to increase its footfall, and did not have money at one point even to pay its staff.

“Now the moment visitors enter the museum, the first thing they want to know is the Kohinoor story,” said Manpreet, a guide at the museum.

Duleep Singh, who succeeded his father Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and signed the surrender Treaty of Lahore with the East Indian Company, wore the diamond last on his 11th birthday, says the board displayed in the museum. A brief history of Kohinoor has also been mentioned on yet another board near the replica.

Jatpuri said following queries from visitors, he had written to department of cultural affairs proposing the display of a detailed history of Kohinoor.

Ruknuddin Mirza, Chief Architect, INTACH, who restored Bassian Kothi, where Duleep Singh was held by the British after the East Indian Company annexed Punjab, said the replica was made from semi- precious stones.

“Everything is the same except for the purity of the diamond.,” said Mirza.

Comments in the visitors’ book are all about the Kohinoor, with most demanding the diamond, which is now part of the British monarch’s crown, be returned and displayed at Bassian Kothi. “Kohinoor must be brought back to India, it belongs to us,” are the standard lines of visitors Surjit Dhillon, Inderjit Sidhu, Ravi Parabhjot, Varinder Kumar and few others. Dr Seema Rajan and Dr Kiran from Phagwara also wrote that government must make serious efforts to reclaim the Kohinoor diamond.

Jagpreet Singh, yet another visitor, said, “Kohinoor must be reclaimed by India. It was not gifted, but taken forcibly.”

Last Saturday, students and teachers from Anand Ishar School Chhapar visited the museum.

“Over 400 of our students had visited the museum in the past. But following the Kohinoor controversy, kids from 6th onwards started asking questions. So we thought of taking a tour to museum so as to end their all queries,” said Karamjeet Singh, the school’s physical education teacher who was accompanying the students. Social studies teacher Balwinder Kaur Dhillon said,”no matter how many hands were exchanged over Kohinoor which was first found in 13th century but the last owners before it went to the British were the rulers of Punjab.

“So it belongs to Sikhs, the rest is history. It must come back to Punjab and SGPC has so many funds to spend on the security of the diamond. One must take care of its rich heritage,” Dhillon said.

In the visitor’s book is a telling comment from one visitor, Prabhdeep Singh. “We want to see the real Kohinoor and not replica.”

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  1. Anupreet Kaur Khanna
    Apr 30, 2016 at 7:14 am
    Kohinoor and Sikh Virsa and Indialt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;There is a lot of talk of getting back the famous Kohinoor Diamond . Several countries of late have laid claims to it incl India and stanlt;br/gt;Kohinoor is one of the oldest and most famous diamonds in the world. The word Koh-I-Noor in Persian means “Mountain of Light”lt;br/gt;After Travelling through various countries From Babur s treasuries to Nadir Shah in Iran and back to India in 1813 when Shah Suja Durrani brought it back to India and gave it to Ranjit Singh in return for his istance in getting back his thronelt;br/gt;it is a Sikh community property “Virsa” and cannot be gifted further. lt;br/gt;So even if Heir apparent of Maharaja Ranjit Singh were to gift it further to the British in 1849 ;he would have no legal rights to do solt;br/gt;Duleep Singh was only 11 years old when he was (made) to sign away The Diamond. As a minor again he had no right to do so and any treaty signed by him would not be valid. In the interim writ of Sarbat Khalsa would applylt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Not Just the Kohinoor also the Kalgi of Guru Gobind Singh and other priceless treasure need to be returnedlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled in the name of Sarbat Khalsa or Sikh community governing body . The background to that initially Panjab and adjoining areas were ruled by 7 Sikh Misls. Ranjit Singh united them under the aegis of Sarbat Khalsa and ruled under the aegis of the same. SGPC is a legal descent of Sarbat Khalsa and hence the bonafide owner (using the above logical constructs) of the Kohinoor Diamond lt;br/gt;The major Sikh archives lie in the parliament library and in archives in Sri Harmandir Sahib