On That Jewel In The Crown…
It’s not possible for India to bring back the Kohinoor from Britain anymore!
The Supreme Court (SC) of India recently refused to review its previous decision on a petition, seeking an order to reclaim the treasured diamond from the UK. The Apex Court said that it had found no ground to reconsider its earlier ruling in this regard. In April 2017, the SC had disposed of pleas filed by an NGO – named All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front – and others, seeking directions to bring back the diamond to the South Asian nation, saying that it could not ask a foreign government not to auction a property. A couple of days ago, a five-judge SC Bench – headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi – dismissed a curative petition, seeking to re-examine its 2017 verdict. Meanwhile, neighbouring Pakistan, too, has requested Britain to return the Kohinoor!
The East India Company had signed the Treaty of Lahore on March 29, 1846 on behalf of the colonial British rulers with the then seven-year-old Sikh Monarch Duleep Singh Bahadur, with the peace treaty marking the end of the First Anglo-Sikh War. For the British, the then Governor General Sir Henry Hardinge and two officers of the East India Company signed the treaty, while Maharaja Duleep Singh Bahadur and seven members of the Lahore Durbar (acting on his behalf) signed for the Sikhs. In the Article III of the treaty, it was clearly mentioned that “the gem, called the Kohinoor, which had been taken from Shah Sooja-ool-moolk by Maharajah Runjeet Singh, shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England”…
Historians are of the opinion that the colonial rulers had forcefully taken away the diamond from Duleep Singh through the one-sided deal!
Maharaja Duleep Singh
According to the British Historians, Queen Victoria was not at all happy with the way the Kohinoor was taken away from the minor Indian monarch. It was hence the diamond did not secure its place in the front cross of the Queen’s Crown immediately upon its arrival in London! After Queen Victoria’s death, the Kohinoor was set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, that was used to crown her at (the time of) their coronation in 1902. The diamond was transferred to Queen Mary’s Crown in 1911, and finally to The Queen Mother’s Crown in 1937. When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, the crown was placed on top of her coffin for the lying-in-state and funeral.
This diamond has long been a subject of diplomatic controversy, with India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan demanding its return from Britain at various points in time. India, believing the gem was rightfully theirs, first demanded the return of the Kohinoor as soon as it won Freedom in August 1947. A second request followed in 1953, the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Each time, the British Government rejected the claims, stating that the ownership was ‘non-negotiable’!
Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry
In recent past, Pakistan requested Britain to return the Kohinoor, with Islamabad arguing that Lahore was the capital of Sikh Empire in 1846, and the colonial British rulers had taken the diamond on the basis of Lahore Pact… Therefore, the Pakistani City has the right to reclaim the Kohinoor!
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad on April 17, Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Britain should return the 105-carat diamond to Lahore as soon as possible. The minister further endorsed the demand that the British Empire must apologise to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh for the Bengal Famine and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, in which the British forces – led by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer – had opened fire on thousands of unarmed and peaceful protesters, including women and children, killing scores of them on April 13, 1919!
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