Return of the Koh-i-Noor: All you need to know

With the media sparking more and more attention towards the auspicious gem of all time, the Koh-i-Noor, there has been a rise in levels of curiosity and speculations on its existence and ownership. There have been demands, petitions and requests for its return to the appropriate handler since ages. It is believed that the diamond carries a curse lethal to male owners and “only God or a woman can wear it with impunity”. So who all are in up for grabs on this precious stone? Let’s take a look.

  • India made its first demand for return in 1947, soon after independence followed by a second request in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation.
  • When Queen Elizabeth II made a state visit to India marking the 50th anniversary of independence in 1997, many Indians in India and Britain demanded the return of the diamond then as well.
  • In 1976 Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto laid down the first request for its restoration to Pakistan.
  • In 2000, the Taliban demanded the return of the gem to Afghanistan. Former President of Afghanistan, Mr Hamid Karzai who was in India recently denied knowledge of such a request by the Taliban however; he said that the Koh-i-Noor once belonged to the Afghan Kings.
  • In November 2015, a group of Indian businessman and Bollywood actors took the returning case to London’s High Court under the Holocaust- Return of Cultural Objects, an Act of 2009, which meant facilitating the return of cultural items stolen by Nazis. However they argued that there cannot be separate laws for Nazis and British.
  • In December 2015, a Pakistani citizen Jawaid Iqbal Jafree approached the Lahore High Court asking the government to get Koh-i-Noor back from Britain. According to Telegraph, Jafree has written more than 786 letters for the diamond’s return, however they have never been acknowledged.
  • Recently Dr. Subramanian Swamy added, “In 1839, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s (Lion of Punjab) 10-year-old son Dilip Singh had a British tutor. When the young prince was about to meet Queen Victoria, he was told that he would have to present her a grand gift, which is when he gave the diamond. However, he regretted what he did as he grew older.”
  • According to some accounts this royal treasure dates back to 3000 BC. It is believed to have come from the Kollur Mine in the Guntur District of present-day Andhra Pradesh, India. The diamond was originally owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty, which had installed it in a temple of a Hindu goddess as her eye.
  • It changed hands over the years until in 1849, after the conquest of the Punjab by the British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated and the diamond was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore, thus becoming a part of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth II.

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