British Indians have accused Indian Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar of lacking a "basic knowledge of Sikh history" after the Supreme Court in New Delhi was told that the Kohinoor diamond belongs to the UK. Kumar said that the diamond was "gifted" to the East India Company by the former rulers of Punjab and was "neither stolen nor forcibly taken away".
Solicitor Kumar's statement stated that the Kohinoor diamond was voluntarily given to the British by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. However, British Sikh groups have argued that this could not have been the case as the diamond was reportedly a gift to "compensate for the Anglo-Sikh wars", which took place many years after the Maharaja died.
Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation UK, told IBTimes UK: "British media would be advised to seek advice of British Sikh scholars and activists rather than rely on incorrect information supplied by Indian Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who clearly lacks basic knowledge of Sikh history."
The Sikh Federation UK has said that when Punjab was annexed by the British in March 1849, the ruler at the time was not Maharaja Ranjit Singh but his youngest son, Maharaja Duleep Singh. Its argument goes on to state that the son was 10 years old when the last Anglo-Sikh Treaty of Lahore was signed and that he had been "duped into handing the Kohinoor over to Queen Victoria".
The Kohinoor diamond has been part of the British crown jewels for 150 years and has become an emotional issue for many Indians who claim that it was stolen by the British during their rule in the subcontinent.
Despite a number of appeals to have the diamond returned to India, successive British prime ministers have refused to do so, with David Cameron saying that it would set an "unworkable precedent". In 2010, Cameron said: "If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty."
However, a statement from the Sikh Federation UK noted: "When it comes to custody of the Kohinoor diamond, successive British prime ministers have referred to the Anglo-Sikh Treaties to justify it as a spoil to war. The Indian Solicitor General and the Indian government have also acknowledged the Anglo-Sikh Treaties.
"However, both governments should also admit when India and Pakistan were created the British hastily exited and reneged on the Anglo-Sikh Treaties that should have also resulted in a Sikh kingdom."