The Colonization of the Koh-i-Noor - The Greatest Artefact of Southern Asia

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The Colonization of the Koh-i-Noor (The Greatest Artefact of Southern Asia)

The All India Front for Human Rights and Social Justice, a non-governmental organization, has filed a lawsuit with the High Court of London seeking the return of the Koh-hi-noor diamond. In 2000, several members of the Indian Parliament signed a letter demanding the return of the diamond to India, claiming that it had been exported illegally. In July 2010, during a visit to India, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron stated"If you say yes to one of them, you will suddenly find that the British Museum is empty” when he was asked a question on whether he would return the diamond to India.

The centre said the Great Britain might not return the Kohinoor diamond, citing a 43-year-old law prohibiting the return of antiquities removed from the country before independence. India has acknowledged that there may not be a compelling legal reason for returning a diamond.

Subsequently, the private defence group Mountain of Light initiated legal action in a British court to secure the return of the diamond to India, which the British government opposed. The request to restore the diamonds came from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in a letter to his British counterpart James Callahan. Callaghan's advisers noted that the Treaty of Lahore of 1849, drawn up by Lord Dalhousie to formalize British rule in Punjab, contained a clause according to which Kohi Noor was formally transferred to the "Queen of England."

In 1849, by imprisoning Jindan, the British forced Duleep to sign a legal document amending the Lahore Treaty, which required Duleep to surrender Koh-i-Noor and all claims to sovereignty. The gem that would later become known as the Koh-i-Noor diamond made its way through the intrigues of the Indian court before it found itself in the jewels of the British Crown in the mid-1800s.

Koh-i-Noor, which means "mountain of light", was once the largest cut diamond in the world and was passed down from one ruling dynasty to another in India. Kohinoor originated in Golconda, Andhra Pradesh state in India, belonged to various Indian and Persian rulers who fought fiercely for it at various times in history, and captured as spoils of war.

It became part of the jewels of the British Crown when the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli proclaimed Queen Victoria "Empress of India" in 1877. The Koh-i-noor later lost most of its weight when it was commissioned to be cut by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, in 1852. Nevertheless, it retains a celebrity that cannot be matched than any of it’s larger or more accomplished rivals. The diamond was last seen publicly on the Queen Mother's coffin in 2002. 

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