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Stop auction of the stolen medal, Himachal appeals to Scotland Yard

Source: PTI
November 28, 2009 16:59 IST
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With just four days left before the 'stolen' George Cross medal goes under the hammer in London, the Himachal Pradesh police in a bid to expedite efforts to stop the auction has contacted the Scotland Yard and also the auction house there.

"We have sent an e-mail to the Dix Noonan Webb, the auction house where the medal is listed for sale on December 2 and also established contacts with the Scotland police to prevent the auction of the medal bestowed to Himachal-born Naik Kirpa Ram for bravery in 1946," Additional Director General of Police (Crime Investigation Department) I D Bhandari told PTI on Saturday.

He said that on their request, the Central Bureau of Investigation has already approached the Interpol to prevent the sale of the stolen medal with an estimated price of 20,000 British pounds (Rs 50 lakh).

In reply to auction house's claim that they have paper evidence to establish that Brahmi Devi, widow of the late Kirpa Ram, had gifted the medal to one Kripal Singh, the ADG said we have intimated them (the auction house as well Scotland police) that it was a 'forged' document and the medal was actually stolen from her house in Bilaspur district.

He said we have told them that the document claiming the medal was gifted does not carry either signature or thumb impression of Brahmi Devi (80),  besides the widow is claiming that she does not know any Kripal Singh who claims to have received the medal as a gift in return for his service to her.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued notice to the Centre as well the state government seeking their reply on the 'stolen' medal finding its way to an auction home at London.

State Advocate General R K Bawa told PTI that a division bench of the HC comprising Acting Chief Justice R B Mishra and Justice Rajeev Sharma on Friday took the matter suo motu notice based on newspaper reports and issued a notice to the Central government and the state government to reply in four weeks time.

The George Cross medal, the highest decoration of the United Kingdom and civilian equivalent to the Victoria cross, was awarded posthumously to Himachal-born Naik Kirpa Ram of the 13th Frontier Force Rifle, who died while repulsing a grenade attack on his colleagues at a Bangalore camp in 1945.

Brahmi Devi was only 13-year-old when she went to receive posthumous award for her husband on January 1, 1946 presented by Field Marshal Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India, on behalf of King George VI.

She had on February 3, 2002 lodged an FIR with Bharari police station in Bilaspur about the medal being stolen from residence. The police had later closed the case as 'untraced.'

On claim of she gifting the medal to one Kripal Singh, SP Bilaspur Kuldeep Sharma, who visited her on Friday, said she recalled a decade-old incident that a person had come to her claiming to be an army man from Chandimandir Cantonment.

He gave her a box of grapes and Rs 1,000 in name of her husband and took receipt of these things on a piece of paper. Two villagers on her behalf had signed the receipt, the SP said, adding, the police has recorded statement of one of them, Basanta.

Other witness Harnam is no more. Retired Indian Administrative Services officer S S Chandel, a writer on war medals on receipt of communication from Marion Hebblethwaite, who has authored 12 volumes on lives of George cross winners, had informed the state police about the sale of the medal.

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