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Kohinoor should be returned to Sikhs: SGPC

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Amritsar, April 19 : Claiming that the Sikh community was the “legitimate” owner of the Kohinoor diamond, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Tuesday demanded that the priceless stone should be handed back to the Sikhs.

In a statement issued here, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar expressed surprise over the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court on Monday that the Kohinoor was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken away but was gifted” to the British East India Company by Maharaja Duleep Singh, who was aged only nine at that time.

“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,” Makkar said in the statement.

The SGPC said the Kohinoor was taken away through “deceitful means” by the British from a young Maharaja Duleep Singh, who was the last Sikh ruler of Punjab.

Makkar demanded that the ministry of culture, which put the Centre’s stand before the Supreme Court, should review its stand on the issue.

“Even if the maharaja himself parted with the diamond, we cannot ignore the ways and means the British must have employed to secure it,” he said, adding that not only the Kohinoor but other priceless treasures belonging to the Sikhs – like the Peacock throne – were taken away from Lahore after the fall of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s empire.

The Centre’s stand on the matter was conveyed to a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit in response to a public interest litigation by an NGO, All India Human Rights and Social Justice Forum, seeking directions to the government to make efforts for getting the diamond back to India.

The court, while giving the government six more weeks, said that if it accepted the government position and dismissed the PIL, all future avenues for staking any legitimate claim over the diamond will be shut.

The apex court gave the time as Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told it that the stand was that of the ministry of culture but the “ministry of external affairs is also a party but their response is yet to come”.

The 108-carat diamond was presented to the then British monarch, Queen Victoria, in 1850 after the Anglo-Sikh wars, in which the Britain gained control over the Sikh empire in the then undivided Punjab.

The Kohinoor diamond, kept under tight security at the Tower of London, is claimed by India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

India

COVID-19: 8 more positive cases in Ahmedabad

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Coronavirus Symtoms

Gandhinagar, April 1 (IANS) Eight new coronavirus positive cases were reported in Gujarat on Wednesday, all of them in state’s financial capital Ahmedabad. Till now, 82 active positive cases are present in Gujarat, with six deaths due to corona outbreak.

Jayanti Ravi, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, said: “Eight new cases have been found in Ahmedabad. Before the central government declared Ahmedabad as a hotspot we had declared Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Gandhinagar as such for the outbreak.”

“These eight include male (52) with travel history to Indore, male (18) also with travel history to Indore, female (45) with interstate travel history, and a female (65) who got infected locally. They have been admitted in Ahmedabad Civil hospital.

“A male (68) with interstate travel history, male (54) with international travel history and a female (58) infected locally have been admitted in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Hospital. Another male (67) who got infected locally has been admitted in the Sola Civil Hospital,” added Ravi.

“Out of total 82 positive cases, the conditions of 66 is stable, six have been discharged, while condition of three is critical and are on ventilator,” added Ravi.

The number of persons under quarantine is 19,206, including 18,487 at home and 743 in government institutes, and 253 in private facilities. As many as 418 FIR have been filed against persons violating the quarantine conditions.

“We have tested 1,586 samples, of which 1,501 were negative, 82 positive and results of three are pending,” added Ravi.

This takes the total Corona positive cases in the state to 82, excluding 6 deaths. The highest number of 31 cases is in Ahmedabad, followed by 11 in Gandhinagar, 10 each in Surat and Rajkot, nine in Vadodara, six in Bhavnagar, two in Gir-Somnath and one each in Porbandar, Mahesana and Kutch.

Out of the 82 positive cases, 33 have foreign travel history, eight inter-state tavel and 41 with locally transmitted disease.

Among the six victims in Gujarat is a 67-year-old male from Surat with co-morbid conditions. An 85-year-old female from Ahmedabad died on Wednesday due to co-morbid conditions. A 70- year-old male from Bhavnagar with travel history to Delhi succumbed on Thursday. Three more deaths were reported on Saturday, Sunday and Monday — a male (47) and female (46) from Ahmedabad and a female (45) from Jesar block in Bhavnagar respectively.

All deceased were suffering from co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac ailments and other several complications.

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Kerala moots salary challenge, ministers to give Rs 1 lakh each

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, April 1 (IANS) The Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet that met here on Wednesday has given the in-principle clearance to have a salary challenge from all state government employees to collect funds to handle the various activities of Covid-19 of the Kerala government.

All state government employees have to contribute one month’s salary to the CM Distress Relief Fund and it could be done in instalments also.

Kerala has at present 215 positive coronavirus positive cases, with over 1.60 lakh people under observation at homes and hospitals.

As a first step the entire cabinet decided that each one of them will contribute Rs one lakh each and it has already been done by Vijayan.

On Tuesday, Vijayan held talks with a section of the employee’s representatives and it has been more or less agreed upon, even as talks have to take place with a few other organisations.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala reacting to the salary challenge told the media that they have no issues with this.

“We have the same stand that we took when such a challenge was announced in 2018, when floods ravaged the state. We strongly demanded then that, it should not be put into the CMDRF, instead it should be in a separate account. It was not done and now what we hear is that at Kochi a CPI-M worker got Rs one million and the report of another fraud of Rs five million also has surfaced. Such things should not happen,” said Chennithala.

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Prez,PM greet people of Odisha on Utkala Dibasa

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PM Modi at UNGA

Bhubaneswar, April 1 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday greeted the people of Odisha on the occasion of Utkala Dibasa.

The President wished for Odisha’s bright future and prosperity.

Modi tweeted, “Utkala Dibasa greetings to my sisters and brothers of Odisha. Praying for Odisha’s constant progress and prosperity in the times to come.”

Besides, Odisha Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wished the people on this occasion.

Prof Lal asked the people to pledge to transform Odisha into a prosperous and developed state and participate in the fight against coronavirus outbreak.

The Chief Minister remembered the legendary leaders who fulfilled the dream of formation of a separate Odisha state.

“I believe, with your support, we will emerge victorious in our ongoing fight against coronavirus,” said Patnaik.

Notably, Utkala Dibasa is celebrated every year to commemorate the formation of the state on linguistic basis on April 1, 1936.

The state government has decided not to organise any official function on the occasion due to lockdown to combat coronavirus outbreak.

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