George Cross theft: Winner’s widow moves Himachal court

Shimla : Perturbed over the failure of the Himachal Pradesh Police in solving the theft of the George Cross awarded to her martyred husband by the British for bravery, septuagenarian Brahmi Devi has finally knocked on the doors of the state high court to seek justice.

When a bench of the high court convenes March 6, it will decide on the crucial issue of the theft of the medal awarded during the pre-independence era to an Indian soldier, a court official said Tuesday.

“In her petition, Brahmi Devi alleged that the police investigation into the case was not up to the mark. She also demanded that the court should stay the auction of the medal till the petition is pending in the court,” Shakti Singh Chandel, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who is pursuing the matter, said .

“The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) has investigated the case since 2009 and no chargesheet has been filed so far despite investigating two accused (based in India),” Chandel added.

The issue of the stolen medal came to light when Britain’s leading auction house Dix Noonan Webb listed the medal for auction Dec 2, 2009.

Later, on the intervention of the Indian government, the British authorities withdrew the medal from the auction.

Brahmi, 77, who lives in a village in Himachal’s Bilaspur district, had claimed that it was stolen from her residence. She had reported the theft Feb 3, 2002.

Director General of Police I.D. Bhandari said here last week: “The British investigating agencies in their report sent to the police here have ruled out the possibility of theft and cheating. They said the medal was genuinely purchased by Ashok Nath (a non-resident Indian who is settled in Britain) from S.L. Jain (an antique dealer based in Delhi).”

“There is a possibility that the medal can be again listed for the auction,” he added.

Contrary to claims of accused Kirpal Singh and Jain, Brahmi has told the police that she had not gifted the medal to anyone. She said the affidavit produced by Singh, who claimed that it was gifted to him, was false.

Chandel said two affidavits — one of Brahmi dated April 29, 2000, given to Singh, a resident of Punjab’s Moga town, and another of Jain dated June 6, 2000 to whom Singh sold the medal — are contradictory.

In the first affidavit it was stated that she was giving the medal to Singh as collecting medals was his hobby. However, in the affidavit of Jain, it was claimed that Brahmi gave the medal to Singh for the service rendered by him.

“Even the affidavits have no legal sanctity as these were neither attested by anyone nor bear the signatures of witnesses,” he said.

Brahmi received the medal from the then Viceroy, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, in 1946.

Her husband, Kirpa Ram was awarded the George Cross, considered the civilian counterpart of Britain’s highest military decoration – the Victoria Cross, for sacrificing his life to save his comrades while disposing of a misfired rifle grenade at a camp in Bangalore Sep 12, 1945.

Nath, in one of his communications to Himachal Pradesh Police in 2009, said he had acquired the medal in good faith nine years ago from Jain after being shown two affidavits along with a video which convinced him that the medals had been acquired in a proper manner.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.