On April 19, anti-Mualim Indian prime minister Narendra Modi altered Muslim history involving world’s largest diamond (186 carats) Koh-i-Noor. His solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar told India’s Supreme Court that the diamond was not stolen by the British colonialists – but it was “gifted” to Queen Victoria by Maharaja Dulip Singh (died 1893) Sikh ruler of the Punjab state as a gratitude for installing him on the throne.
“Koh-I-Noor cannot be said to be forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation to helping them in the Sikh wars,” Kumar told a bench lead by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur.
Kumar pleaded that India should not stake claim to Koh-I-Noor because other countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, etc.) may start pressing India for return of their historic items.
Nafis Ahmad Siddique appearing on behalf the Indian group that filed petition in India’s highest court demanding the return of Koh-i-Noor and other treasures taken by the British empire during its 200 colonial rule over India sub-continent, contended that Kumar’s statement set a ‘dangerous precedent’.
Both India and Pakistan have tried unsuccessfully the retrieval of Koh-I-Noor in the past.
The Koh-i-Noor and 200 other diamonds decorate British Crown. It was cut down to 108.93 carats from its original size. It’s on display in the Tower of London along with other treasures looted from British former colonies. It’s estimated to be worth more than $200 million. It has been used by four British female ‘royals’; Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, Queen Marry and Queen Elizabeth II.
King Zahir-uddin Muhammad Babur of Afghanistan who founded the Mughal Dynasty in Indian sub-continent in 1526, received the diamond from Raja of Gwalior. He named it Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light in Persian language). Since than, the diamond had changed hands amongst Indian, Afghan and Persian rulers.
Emperor Shah Jehan commissioned building of Mughal throne, Takhet-i-Taous (Peacock Throne) in 1628. The Koh-I-Noor was mounted on it. Shah Jehan’s son and the last great emperor of Mughal dynasty, Aurengzeb Alamgir (1658-1707) brought the Koh-I-Noor to the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore (Pakistan). It was robbed by King Nadir Shah who took the Peacock Throne along with the Koh-I-Noor to Persia in 1739, but the diamond found its way back to Punjab in 1813 after the deposed ruler of Afghanistan, Shuja Shah Durani, took it to India and made a deal to surrender the diamond in exchange for help in winning back the Kabul throne.
The British East India army came across the diamond when they occupied Sikh Punjab state in 1849.
The original Peacock throne was lost long ago. However, it duplicate exists in Tehran’s central bank building along with other Pahlavi royal jewels.