Three-way claim for Koh-i-Noor diamond: Pakistan lawyer starts new battle over the iconic diamond

India has long laid claim to the world famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was acquired by Britain in 1849 when the East India Company annexed the region of Punjab. However, a new ruling in Lahore has set the stage for a three-way claim between India, the UK and Pakistan for the famed diamond from the Crown Jewels.

Pakistan Barrister, Javed Iqbal Jaffry argued that the Koh-i-Noor actually belongs to Pakistan as he says that the 105-carat gem hailed from territory that became Pakistan in 1947.
In the petition, Mr. Jaffry argued that Britain “forcibly and under duress” stole the diamond from Daleep Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, and took it to Britain.

“The diamond became part of the crown of incumbent Queen Elizabeth-II at the time of her crowing in 1953. Queen Elizabeth has no right on the Koh-i-Noor diamond,” he said.

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The London-trained lawyer said that he has written 786 letters to the Queen and to Pakistani officials before filing the lawsuit.

“Koh-i-Noor was not legitimately acquired. Grabbing and snatching it was a private, illegal act which is justified by no law or ethics. A wrong is a wrong. It does not become righteous or right by passage of time or even acquiescence,” he said in the petition.

Claiming that the diamond was cultural heritage of Punjab province and its citizens owned it in fact, he sought direction to the government to bring the diamond back to Pakistan from the U.K.

The Koh-i-Noor is one of the Crown Jewels and is now on display in the Tower of London.

India says that Koh-i-Noor was illegally acquired and demands that it should be returned along with other treasures looted during colonial rule.

The Koh-i-Noor was mined in medieval times in the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district. The diamond was originally owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty, which had installed it in a temple of a Hindu goddess as her eye.

Reportedly, in 1849, after the conquest of the Punjab by the British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated. The Koh-i-Noor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore. The properties of the Sikh Empire were taken as war compensations.

It passed through the hands of various invaders and was finally appropriated by the British in 1850 during the Raj.

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