London, Nov 9: In order to aggravate efforts to bring back the world famous Kohinoor diamond from the British Empire, an Indian lobby group, comprising of businessmen and actors, is planning to mount a legal case against Queen Elizabeth II, demanding the return of the jewel.
This comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United Kingdom on a 3-day tour. The 105 carat stone was mined in India 800 years ago and was presented to Queen Victoria during the Raj and is now set in a crown belonging to the Queen's mother on public display in the Tower of London. It is now priced at 100 million Euros.
The co-founder of the Indian leisure group Titos, David de Souza, is helping to fund the legal proceedings of the case and has asked British lawyers to begin High Court proceedings.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, he said,"The Koh-i-Noor is one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstances. Colonisation did not only rob our people of wealth, it destroyed the country's psyche itself. It brutalised society, traces of which linger on today in the form of mass poverty, lack of education and a host of other factors."
"The mountain of light" was once considered the largest cut diamond in the world and has been passed from one ruling dynasty to another in India. After the British Colonization of Punjab in 1849, the Marqees of Dalhousie, the British Governor-General presented it to Queen Victoria. The last Sikh ruler, Duleep Singh, who was a 13-year old boy travelled to Britain in 1850 and handed over the gem to Queen Victoria.
The British Law firm instructed by the campaigners said that they would be basing the case on the principles of the British law that give institutions the power to return stolen art.
Bhumika Singh, an actress who joined the campaign said that it was not just a jewel, but a reminiscence of the rich heritage that we have and that it should be returned to India.
The campaign has taken momentum in Britain too, especially from the labour party where Indian-origin Labour MP Keithz Vaz said "What a wonderful moment it would be, if when PM Modi finishes his visit, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond's return."
However, British Prime Minister David Cameroon, on his visit to India, defended Britain's right to keep the jewel, satting that he did not believe in "returnism".