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India says British Queen should keep its Koh-i-Noor

Koh-i-Noor was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away, government tells SC

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth's crown is carried through the Norman Porch of the Palace of Westminster after the State Opening of Parliament on June 4, 2014 in London, England. REUTERS/POOL/Oli Scarff

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India should relinquish its claim to a huge diamond that it has fought for decades to get back from the British, the government told the Supreme Court on Monday, because the stone was given to its former colonial ruler rather than stolen.

One of the world’s largest diamonds, the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor has been part of the British crown jewels for 150 years and today forms part of Queen Elizabeth II’s crown.

The stone has been at the center of a long-running diplomatic row, with many Indians demanding Britain return the diamond to atone for its colonial past.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Monday told India’s Supreme Court that it should forgo its claims to the jewel because it was in fact given to the British as a gift by an Indian King, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in 1851.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth's crown is carried through the Norman Porch of the Palace of Westminster after the State Opening of Parliament on June 4, 2014 in London, England. REUTERS/POOL/Oli Scarff
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s crown is carried through the Norman Porch of the Palace of Westminster after the State Opening of Parliament on June 4, 2014 in London, England. REUTERS/POOL/Oli Scarff

“It was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away,” solicitor general Ranjit Kumar told the Supreme Court during the hearing of a case calling for the stone’s return.

The Koh-i-Noor, on display in the Tower of London, is set in the crown worn by the current Queen Elizabeth during her coronation in 1953.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who last week visited India with her husband, Prince William, will wear the crown on official occasions when she becomes queen consort. William is second in line to the British throne.

During a visit to India in 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the diamond would stay in London.

“What tends to happen with these questions is that if you say yes to one, then you would suddenly find the British Museum empty,” he said.

Indian campaigners believe the diamond is one of many artefacts taken from India by the British during colonial rule.

“The British rulers looted India and the government is making a mistake by not supporting our claims,” said Nafis Ahmad Siddiqui, who petitioned the Supreme Court for the stone’s return.

(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty, Rupam Jain, Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by Tommy Wilkes and Nick Macfie)

1 COMMENT

  1. If a famous actor feels he should settle outside the country then it is anti national. But if the Gov’t. Makes a mockery of the Indian public, misrepresents the true facts, and claims that the Kohinoor taken as a “prize won in war” by the britishers was a gift…. Then that’s patriotic. Its just a matter of time before we give off Arunachal Pradesh also as a gift to China.

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

Despite the much talked about cracker-ban, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality.

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While the ban on crackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution. (Representative image) Pixabay

New Delhi, October 20, 2017: The Supreme Court had on October 9 banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali in order to counter the pollution, deteriorating air quality and smog-like conditions that have come to be associated with the festival in recent times.

While a radical change was not expected following the ban on firecrackers, a humble and promising beginning could be witnessed on Diwali with majority areas in Delhi reporting much lesser noise and smoke till 6 PM, compared to previous years.

However, as the festive spirit picked up from 7 PM onwards, the hopes for a pollution-free Diwali got lost behind the growing echo of the crackers.

Pollution Levels on Diwali

Despite the much talked about the ban on firecrackers, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality. According to the stats available, on Diwali day around 7 pm, online indicators showed a rising trend in the volume of cancer-causing ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10 that are capable of entering the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream.

PM2.5 and PM10 are the extremely fine particulate matter with the digits representing their diameter in micrometers. They are a major component of air pollutants that threaten both, our health and the environment at large.

ALSO READ 10 Quick Facts About Delhi Pollution Problem

However, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suggested that the air quality in Delhi on Diwali was better than last year.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was 319 which placed the city in the ‘very poor’ category. However, the AQI value on Diwali last year was 431 and the city was placed in the ‘severe’ category.

According to data from SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average at around 11 PM was revealed as 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic meter for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively.

According to SAFAR data, pollution levels were expected to soar between 11 PM and 3 AM.

Pollution Levels in the Morning after Diwali

As the night progressed, PM2.5 levels recorded a sharp rise in multiple areas in and around Delhi, with 15 times increase in areas like India Gate

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM2.5 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 911 microns (Normal level – 60 microns)

RK Puram – 776 microns (13 times more than usual)

Ashoka Vihar – 820 microns (14 times more than normal)

Anand Vihar – 617 microns (10 times more than normal)

A sharp rise was observed in the PM10 levels in the early hours of the morning after Diwali which suggest hazardous pollution levels in Delhi.

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM10 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 985 microns

RK Puram – 1083 (11 times more than usual)

Anand Vihar – 2402 microns (24 times more than normal. Normal level is considered around 100 microns)

While the ban on firecrackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution.

Official figures from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are yet to be announced today. However, judging from the data available, it won’t be wrong to say that pollution levels in Delhi have increased post-Diwali.

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)