Monday, 12 August 2013

India should bring back the Treaty of Amritsar say historians

EDITORS COMMENT: The Treaty for sale is a copy and not the actual treaty. 

AMRITSAR: The auction of a copy of Treaty of Amritsar, which dates back to early 19th century, by UK-based Mullock's auction house has come under criticism by historians, who are of the view that the India government should participate in the bid and bring it back to the country.

"The copy of Treaty of Amritsar should have been in the National Archives of India and not allowed to make money by its auction," historian and professor HS Arora, who is also head, Bhai Gurdas Library, Guru NanakDev University, told TOI on Thursday.

"The government or the Sikhs' largest representative body, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), should try to bring back the Treaty which was a very significant document of Sikh history. They have the resources to make the bid and bring back the Treaty. They should do so even after it is auctioned on August 21," said Chopra.

Signing of Treaty of Amritsar between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and young British envoy Charles T Metcalfe on behalf of the British East India Company in 1809 stipulated that perpetual friendship subsist between the British government and the State of Lahore. Besides, the British shall have no concern with the territories and subjects of the Maharaja to the north of river Satluj. It also said that the State of Lahore shall not commit any encroachment on the possessions of cic-Sutlej Chief, nor to maintain its territories more than were necessary for internal duties and any violation of these stipulations would render the treaty null and void.

According to some historians, the treaty had shattered Ranjit Singh's dream of establishing Sikh supremacy over the territories between Jamuna and Satluj rivers as the extension of his power beyond river Satluj was prevented.

However, Chopra felt that under the then prevailing circumstances, signing of the Treaty was the most advisable for Maharaja Ranjit Singh. "It was a politically correct decision," said he.

Renowned writer Khushwant Singh in his book titled "Ranjit Singh -- Maharaja of Punjab" had stated, "The Treaty of Amritsar was a grievous blow to Ranjit Singh's dream of unified Punjab."

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said, "We are a religious organization. Such a significant document ought to be brought back to India. The government should make all possible efforts to bring back the document either by participating in the auction or even after it is auctioned."

According to reports, the Treaty is likely to fetch a paltry amount of around Rs 54,000-Rs 72,000.

Yudhvir Rana, TNN Aug 10, 2013
Read Sikh treaty for sale at Mullocks Auction house


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