A lobby group comprising of Bollywood actors and businessmen have united to start legal proceedings to get back Kohinoor diamond to India.
The world’s largest-know diamond, which is reportedly worth £100 million, is now set in a crown belonging to the Queen’s mother, and is on public display in the Tower of London.
The diamond was in the crown worn by the Queen Mother at the coronation of her husband King George VI in 1937 and again at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, reported the Independent.
The 105-carat Kohinoor, whose name means Mountain of Light in Persian, is believed to have been mined in India nearly 800 years ago.
David de Souza, co-founder of the Indian leisure group Titos, said:
“The Koh-i-Noor is one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstances. Colonisation did not only rob our people of wealth, it destroyed the country’s psyche itself. It brutalised society, traces of which linger on today in the form of mass poverty, lack of education and a host of other factors.”
He is helping to fund the new legal action and has instructed British lawyers to begin High Court proceedings.
Kohinoor was mined at Kollur Mine (Andhra Pradesh). It was originally owned by Kakatiya dynasty and was passed down from one dynasty to another in India.
But in 1849, on the orders of Marquess of Dalhousie, the British Governor-General, it was decided to present it to Queen Victoria.
The last Sikh ruler, Duleep Singh, a 13-year-old boy, travelled to Britain to hand the gem to Queen Victoria.
British Lawyers said they would base their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.
Satish Jakhu, of Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King, said they would argue that the government had stolen the diamond. He added that they would be taking their case to the International Court of Justice.
Bollywood actor, Bhumika Singh, who is also part of the group, said, “Koh-i-Noor is not just a 105-carat piece of stone. It has a lot of history and culture attached to it, and undoubtedly should be returned to India.”
However, it won’t be easy. Historian Andrew Roberts said:
“Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognise that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernisation, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratisation of the sub-continent.”
Interestingly, the legal action coincides with Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom this week. During his visit, he will attend a lunch hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Keith Vaz, Indian-origin Labour Party MP, has also supported the campaign. He said, “What a wonderful moment it would be, if when PM Modi finishes his visit, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond’s return.”
Earlier in 2013, when British Prime Minister David Cameron visited India, he said that it is Britain’s right keep the diamond and he did not believe in ‘returnism’.