George Cross medal theft: British police send Himachal evidence



Shimla: British police have sent to Himachal Pradesh Police a DVD purporting to show that the George Cross awarded to a pre-independence Indian soldier was “gifted” by his widow to a man who is accused of stealing it, an official said here Tuesday.

“The DVD has footage of Brahmi Devi, the accused Kirpal Singh and some locals belonging to Brahmi’s village,” Deputy Inspector General (Criminal Investigation) N. Venugopal said. However, he added, “The conversation mostly seems to be one-sided and contains no substantial evidence that she had gifted the medal to Kirpal Singh, as he claimed during his interrogation.”

“Kirpal was repeating just one line (as shown in the DVD) time and again that Brahmi Devi gifting the medal to him. She was not responding,” he said. Sources in police here said the DVD was handed over to the British police by Ashok Nath, who had listed the medal for auction at Britain’s leading auction house Dix Noonan Webb on Decrmbrt 2, 2009.

Venugopal said the people shown in the DVD including Brahmi Devi were again interrogated and no evidence was found that the medal was gifted to Kirpal Singh by the soldier’s widow. “The DVD itself indicates malafide intention on part of Kirpal Singh. It points to a bigger racket in the sale/purchase of antiques. Police will look at all angles, even the alleged involvement of some international gang in procuring the medal,” another police official investigating the case said.

Venugopal said interrogation of Kirpal Singh again is important in this case. “By the end of this month, we will reply back to Britain regarding the evidence (DVD) provided by it,” he said.

The medal was allegedly stolen from Brahmi Devi’s house in Bilaspur district in 2002. She had reported the theft on February 3, 2002. However, police closed the case after a few years as the medal could not be traced.

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. Brahmi Devi received the medal on her husband’s behalf from the then Viceroy, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, in 1946.

After withdrawing the medal from the auction house, Ashok Nath wrote to Himachal police that he had acquired the medal in good faith nine years ago from S.L. Jain, who was a reputed coin and medal dealer, after being shown two affidavits along with a video which convinced him that the medals had been acquired in a proper manner.

He sympathised with Brahmi Devi by saying that “he would be the first person to return the medal to her if it was found that it was stolen. Being a victim of circumstances, Brahmi Devi would still get my sympathy even if she had indeed given the medal to Kirpal Singh.”

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