Do We Still Have a Right to the Kohinoor?

Do We Still Have a Right to the Kohinoor

There are certain things that Indians get intensely passionate about. The Kohinoor is one of them. The Indian government has requested the return of the diamond to India several times in the past. Each time, the British government has rejected India’s claims.

Apart from India, Pakistan and Taliban Afghanistan also hold that the diamond is rightfully theirs.

Perhaps the most sought after diamond in history, the Kohinoor has associated with it a complicated history of possession. There is no concrete evidence for any place being the Kohinoor’s origin. There is speculation that it might have been mined from the Kollur Mines located in present day Andhra Pradesh, India.

There are also records of the Mughals owning the diamond during their rule of Delhi. When Delhi was conquered by the Persians in 1739, Nadir Shah took the diamond with him. But when he was killed, it was given to the founder of the Afghan empire, Ahmad Shah Durrani, in 1751. Around 60 years later, one of his descendants gave it to Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh empire. After the death of Ranjit Singh, the diamond came into the possession of Gulab Singh, Raja of Jammu, in 1839.

The Kohinoor was passed around a few more times between rulers as a tool of negotiation. It finally came into the ownership of Queen Victoria in 1849 after the second Anglo-Sikh war. It was handed over by Emperor Duleep Singh, who was 11 years old at the time. Today, the Kohinoor is in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II.

Many Indians insist that the diamond was looted from India. They feel that, just like how the Jewish art that was stolen by the Nazis was returned to its owners after World War II, the Kohinoor should also be returned to India. But unlike the stolen art from the world wars, returning things taken during colonialism is a little more complicated because of how countries have changed borders geographically.

British governments have denied the requests from the countries stating that the diamond has been a part of Britain for 150 years and that it was impossible to determine the rightful owner. In 2010, David Cameron said that returning the diamond would set a precedent that would lead to the British Museum becoming empty as every country would then start demanding artifacts.

Because of the chain of ownership that the Kohinoor has had, it is close to impossible to determine its fate objectively.

Some proposals have been made over the years to end the dispute between the four nations. It has been suggested that the diamond be cut into four and give a piece each to each country. Another proposal is that it should be placed on the Wagah border. These suggestions may not seem so bad but nothing can be done until the British government changes its position on the diamond’s status. When, or if, that will happen, one cannot determine.

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