New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs continues to “explore ways and means” for a “satisfactory” resolution to the Kohinoor issue considering the sentiments expressed by citizens and Parliament from time to time for getting back the famed diamond from the UK, the government said on Thursday.
“The Ministry of External Affairs has been mindful of the sentiments expressed by the Indian public and Parliament from time to time about the return of Kohinoor and other items belonging to India. Consequently, MEA continues to explore ways and means for obtaining a satisfactory resolution to this issue with the UK government,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. Replying to another query, he said there is only one petition pending in the Supreme Court regarding the return of the famed 106-carat diamond currently set in a royal crown on display in the Tower of London. Last month, UK Minister of Asia and Pacific Affairs Alok Sharma had indicated that Kohinoor could probably never find its way back to India. “As far as this issue is concerned, there is no legal ground for restitution,” he had said during his visit here.
In response to the British government’s statement that there is no legal ground for restitution of the diamond, a senior government source had said India would make all out efforts to get back the diamond estimated to cost a staggering over US $200 million. The source had indicated that the government was considering both diplomatic as well as legal channels for the purpose.
Kohinoor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore after the subjugation of Punjab in 1849 by the British forces, which had confiscated the properties of the Sikh Empire. As political pressure mounts on the government to bring back the diamond, which also is an emotive issue, Sharma had a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last month where it was reportedly decided that India would approach Britain in this regard.
The Kohinoor issue had snowballed into a major 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, indicating it cannot be claimed by India now. The gem is the subject of a historical ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries, including India.