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India Abandons Its Dubious Claim To Sikh Heirloom:





India has indicated that it is now abandoning its claim to the Koh-i-Noor which was taken by the British under questionable circumstances from the child Sikh Emperor, Duleep Singh whose capital was in Lahore, now in Pakistan.

The Koh-i-Noor was last worn by the 10-year Sikh Maharaja before it was taken from him while he was being held isolated and alone, and then it was smuggled to England by his British appointed ‘guardian’, John Login, who secretly kept it sown within the seam of his shirt.

India’s back-tracking was fueled by its alarm over the possibility that any legal proceedings brought forward in an international setting would lead to issues relating to India’s legitimacy over the various territories - including the Sikh kingdoms - which were loosely bundled together to form a hastily cobbled, extra-judicially created new entity, India, in 1947. 

The Indian government has this week told its Supreme Court that it will not try to reclaim the priceless Koh-i-noor diamond from Britain.

The gemstone passed into British hands from the Sikh Kingdom of Ranjit Singh / Duleep Singh in the mid-19th Century, and now forms part of the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London.

Ownership of the famous gem was recently turned into a controversy by the Indian government through its dubious claim that it belongs to the country which did not even exist more than seven decades ago.

India’s solicitor-general has now suddenly back-tracked and declared that it was "neither stolen nor forcibly taken", and therefore India has no valid claim to it.

Minister Ranjit Kumar’s latest position is that the 105-carat diamond had been "gifted" to the East India company by the former rulers of Punjab in 1849 ... a statement as false as its preceding claim.

The case is being heard by the Supreme Court after an Indian NGO filed a petition asking the court to direct the Indian government to bring back the diamond.

The court is still considering the issue, and said it did not want to dismiss the petition as it could "stand in the way" of future attempts to bring back items that once belonged to India.

Mr Kumar, representing the Indian government, said he would consult with the foreign minister on the issue and frame a response within six weeks.

Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, said a few years ago that it should be returned as "atonement for the colonial past".

The question, however, has been: to whom should it be returned, since the Sikh Kingdom (now extinct) was based in Lahore, which is now in Pakistan. Furthermore, given the state of widespread corruption amongst the rulers of India today, Sikhs around the world have demanded that it be kept in Britain in government safe-keeping until they resolve their relationship with the new governments on the subcontinent.

Successive British prime ministers have refused to return it. Most recently, David Cameron said that returning it would set an "unworkable precedent".

"If you say yes to one, you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty," he told Indian media during a trip to the country in 2010.

The diamond was last worn in Britain by the late Queen Mother and was displayed on her crown when her coffin lay in state after her death in 2002.

The Koh-i-Noor, meaning "Mountain of Light" in Persian, is the most famous diamond in the Crown Jewels. It has been the subject of conquest and intrigue for centuries, passing through the hands of Mughal princes, Iranian warriors, Afghan rulers and finally to the Sikh Emperor, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was last worn by his youngest son and successor, Maharaja Duleep Singh, when it was taken from him while he, still a minor, was a prisoner.

Attempting to sum up its worth, the 18th Century Afghan queen Wufa Begum said: "If a strong man were to throw four stones, one north, one south, one east, one west, and a fifth stone up into the air, and if the space between them were to be filled with gold, all would not equal the value of the Koh-i-Noor."

The stone originally measured 186 carats when it was taken from the 10-year-old Sikh Emperor after he had been isolated from his family and subjects and in the control of a British appointed ‘guardian‘.

However, the diamond's traditional rose cut was re-cut as an oval brilliant, gaining sparkle and lost about 40% of its weight in the process, over concerns by the British royalty and government that it carried a curse with it. The 105.6 carat stone - the size of a hen's egg - is currently set in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The British elite were worried over its reputation that it was unlucky for men to wear the Koh-i-Noor diamond owing to its long and bloody history, and hence was installed in the Queen Mother‘s crown.

Since it was taken from the Sikh Kingdom, Sikhs around the world have vociferously objected to its return to the sub-continent, questioning India’s claim to it under any pretext, and raising the concern that it would quickly be lost in the hands of India’s corrupt politicians.

[Based on report by BBC News. Edited for]
April 20, 2016

Conversation about this article

1: Hardev Singh (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), April 20, 2016, 5:54 PM.

What a shameless claim by India for the return of the Koh-i-Noor, only to be dropped for its dire, unintended consequences. Has it occurred to anyone, with an iota of conscience, that the priceless artifacts stolen in 1984 from the Sikh Reference Library need to be returned to their rightful place; or, are they now untraceable and already sold on the black market. The British have meticulously preserved and catalogued not only Sikh artifacts but world cultural artifacts that would likely have been lost. Sikh-Britons are rightfully indignant of anything of importance to them leaving British shores.

2: Arjan Kaur (New Delhi, India), April 21, 2016, 9:11 AM.

Exercising the right of the feeble-brained and the morally bankrupt, the Indian government has, as of yesterday, done a quick about-face and will now, once again, claim the Koh-i-Noor for the BJP/RSS babus. I suppose they suddenly had an epiphany that the Koh-i-Noor too, like everything else of value in the world no matter who it belongs to, was 'invented' in the pre-historic and fictional 'Vedic times'!

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom ), April 21, 2016, 8:44 PM.

The Koh-i-Noor diamond rightfully belongs to the Sikh Nation, specifically, to the Sikh refugees and their descendants from the Partition of Punjab. Until a mechanism is found to effect a transfer, it should remain in the safe-keeping of the British authorities.

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