New Delhi: Stressing that certain news items appearing in the press regarding the Kohinoor diamond are “not based on facts”, the government on Tuesday reiterated its resolve to make all possible effort to bring back the Kohinoor in an amicable manner.
“The factual position is that the matter is sub-judice at present. A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court, which is yet to be admitted. Besides, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar was asked to seek the views of the Government of India, which have not yet been conveyed,” said a government statement released here.
“The Solicitor General of India informed the court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the Government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented. The Court granted six weeks time on the prayer of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter,” it added.
“The status report on which the preliminary submission was made by the Solicitor General have references to the stand taken by governments earlier that the Kohinoor was a gift and cannot be categorised as an object stolen. The material further has references to the views of India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru dating back to 1956. Pandit Nehru went on record saying that there is no ground to claim this art treasure back. He also added that efforts to get the Kohinoor back would lead to difficulties,” said the statement.
Pandit Nehru also said, “To exploit our good relations with some country to obtain free gifts from it of valuable articles does not seem to be desirable. On the other hand, it does seem to be desirable that foreign museums should have Indian objects of art.”
It may be added that ever since he has taken over as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s efforts led to three significant pieces of India’s history coming back home.
In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga that was stolen in 1990 and found in 2012 at a museum in Germany.
In April 2015, then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper returned a sculpture known as the ‘Parrot Lady’, which dates back to almost 900 years.
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on his India visit in 2014, had returned antique statues of Hindu deities that were in Australian art galleries.
None of these gestures affected India’s relations with Canada, Germany or Australia. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the Chief Minister got back the ashes of Shyamji Krishna Varma almost 70 years after his death.
Thus, with regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, we remain hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history.
After the subjugation of Punjab in 1849 by British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated. The Kohinoor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore.
The diamond was shipped to Britain and was handed to Queen Victoria in July 1850. It was cut to improve its brilliance and was mounted into Queen Victoria’s crown. The diamond now sits in the Tower of London along with the Crown Jewels.