The Kohinoor is back in the news after British Queen Camilla decided not to wear the controversial diamond during her coronation ceremony. The central government is reportedly planning to bring back the controversial colonial-era Kohinoor diamond and other artefacts, including idols and sculptures, from museums in the UK. News agencies report that this issue is one of the top priorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the same time, there are reports that this is not true.
It is reported that the Archaeological Survey of India is leading the efforts to recover all the objects smuggled out of India after India’s independence. It has centuries old artifacts. Officers of the Archaeological Survey Division may co-ordinate the proceedings in liaison with the diplomats in London. Many of the items collected by the British during their colonial rule in India are worth billions. It is indicated that the government will first approach small museums to return them. Later, large institutions and dynasties dealing with historical objects may be approached. News agencies report that smaller museums and private individuals may be willing to hand over artifacts.
Culture Ministry Secretary Govind Mohan said that the effort to bring Indian artefacts home from the UK was a personal commitment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There are arguments that the British Rajji Kamila chose other diamonds instead of the Kohinoor in the crown meeting to avoid diplomatic problems with India.
The British Museum has a collection of Hindu statues and Amaravati marbles taken from a Buddhist stupa by a civil servant, Sir Walter Elliot. The Victoria and Albert Museum also has such collections of artefacts. These include items seized by the British when they removed antiquities from temples in various states of northern India in the 19th century. The most valuable is the 105 carat Kohinoor diamond. Before it came into the hands of the East India Company, the diamond was in the possession of the kings of India. After conquering Punjab, the East India Company got the diamond from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s treasury.