The Indian government is making “all possible efforts” to retrieve the Kohinoor diamond contrary to reported comments from the country’s Solicitor General that the rare historical stone was given as a gift to the United Kingdom and not stolen.
Media reports said Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the Indian Supreme Court that the diamond was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken” but had been “gifted” to the East India Company by Punjab rulers.
The country’s highest court is deciding on the issue after an Indian NGO filed a petition asking the court to bid for the diamond’s return.
Mountain of light
The legendary 105.6 carat diamond, whose name means “mountain of light”, is set in the Queen Mother’s crown on display in the Tower of London. It has been the source of a decades-long controversy with claims not just from India but Pakistan too.
Sketches of the Kohinoor from circa 1860.
The Kohinoor was unearthed in the Golconda mines in central southern India, according to the UK Royal Palace, and passed through the possession of “Mughal princes, Iranian warriors, Afghan rulers and Punjabi Maharajas” before ending up in British hands in 1849.
It was removed from its Indian setting and recut in 1852 as an oval brilliant.
‘Bring back the Kohinoor’
The Kohinoor diamond currently sits in the center of the front cross of the Queen Mother’s crown.
A statement from the Indian Ministry of Culture on Tuesday said that the Solicitor General’s views were not those of the Indian government and it “reiterated its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner.”
Since Narenda Modi assumed the role of Prime Minister two years ago, India has regained several historic pieces — including a 10th-century Indian statue of the goddess Durga from Germany, a nearly 900-year-old ‘Parrot Lady’ sculpture from Canada and antique statues of Hindu deities from Australia.