New Delhi: India today said it is exploring “ways and means for obtaining a satisfactory resolution” to the Kohinoor issue with Britain, a day after the UK government claimed no legal ground exists for New Delhi to take back the famed diamond.
“The Ministry of External Affairs is exploring ways and means for obtaining a satisfactory resolution to this issue (of bringing back Kohinoor) with the UK government,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. He was responding to a query on steps taken by the government to bring back the 108-carat precious gem, which is currently set in a royal crown on display in the Tower of London.
Replying to a query on whether the Ministry had made a statement that Kohinoor diamond was a gift to Britain and that it was not taken away forcibly, he said, “No, Sir. It was a misinterpretation.” The comments assume significance coming as they do against the backdrop of the UK Minister of Asia and Pacific Affairs Alok Sharma indicating that Kohinoor could probably never find it way to India.
“As far as this issue is concerned, there is no legal grounds for restitution,” he had said yesterday.
Culture Ministry sources said bringing back the diamond faces legal and technical hurdles as the issue dates to pre-Independence period and thus does not fall under the purview of Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972.
Recently, Sharma had a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj where it was reportedly decided that India would approach Britain next month on the issue of bringing back the diamond.
The Kohinoor issue snowballed into controversy after the government made a submission in the Supreme Court in April that it was neither “forcibly taken nor stolen” by the British but given as a “gift” to the East India Company by the rulers of Punjab.
However, after receiving flak for its stand, the government had said all efforts would be made to get back the diamond estimated to cost a staggering over USD 200 million.
Kohinoor, meaning mountain of light, is a large, colourless diamond which was found in southern India in the early 14th century. The gem is the subject of a historical ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries, including India.