Thursday, May 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India



The tale of Koh-i-Noor

There is no mention in the articles published in the special section on how the Koh-i-Noor diamond came into the possession of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

If my 75-year-old memory serves me right, Shah Shujah was the king of Afghanistan who was driven out of his kingdom by his elder brother, Dost Mohmmed Khan. Shah Shujah sought refuge in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Lahore. He also sought help from the Maharaja and Lord Auckland, the Governor-General of British occupied India.

There was a treaty of mutual peace and friendship “signed by both Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Lord Minto, the Governor-General of British-occupied India at the former’s gilded palace at Lahore on April 25, 1809.

So it was under this treaty of “friendship”, a tripartite treaty was signed by Lord Auckland, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Shah Shujah at Lahore in 1838.

The ostensible object of the tripartite treaty was to place Shah Shujah on the throne of Afghanistan which he ascended in 1803.


A fierce battle raged between the combined English, Sikh and Afghan forces (who were loyal to Shah Shujah) with the forces of Dost Mohammed Khan in the streets of Kabul and Kandahar and other parts of Afghanistan.

Finally they captured the throne of Afghanistan. As history states: “Shah Shujan glittering with jewels, and mounted on a white charger was escorted in triumph by British and Sikh troops through the streets of Kabul into the castled palace of the Bala Hisar. This great feat was celebrated by the British at Ferozepore and the Sikhs at Lahore.

And for this act of gratitude, Shah Shujah presented Maharaja Ranjit Singh with the Koh-i-Noor diamond.


Reducing students’ load

The proposal to abolish the board examination for Class X is a welcome step which will help in reducing at least some load on the students.

For the board or the university examinations there should be only three stages — pre-graduation, graduation and post graduation.

We should also try to reduce the load and strain on kids. There are three unnecessary stages — LKG, UKG and nursery — to reach Class I. Most of the schools, the so-called kindergartens, have vested interest in promoting this practice.

The child has to join school at the tender age of two and a half years which affects his or her physical and mental growth. Besides, it imposes heavy financial burden on the parents.

Whatever the kids learn in three years at these teaching shops can be taught to them in just six months in their own home. This system should, therefore, be scrapped forthwith and the child should go direct to Class I at the age of five years.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar


Apropos the news item “Hospital fined” (March 21), the only purpose it seems to serve is to harm the reputation of the hospital and doctors involved. My name in the three-paragraph report appears as many as five times. This is a wide departure from the paper’s normal practice. When you describe the arrest or surrender of Zaffarwal, you write about the active role of a “Punjab minister” and “senior police officers” without naming them. Is the reputation of a politician or a police officer more sacrosanct than that of a surgeon? Journalistic ethics require that your correspondent should have asked me if I had anything to say.

When the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, while in police custody on the charge of sodomy was beaten by the then police chief, Rahim Noor, the latter was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment which, the Time magazine (April 16, 2001) reported, “he is appealing”. No such consideration for me. Your correspondent has condemned me with the finality of a Supreme Court verdict.

Since the matter is still sub judice, it would be improper for me to divulge any details of the case at this stage.

R. P. JINDAL, AmritsarTop

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