Who will get the $800 million Kohinoor diamond back: India, Pakistan, or Afghanistan?

India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have all stated earlier that they would make "all possible efforts" to arrange the return of the $800 million Kohinoor diamond.

After the announcement of the death of the longest serving British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, the word “Kohinoor” surprisingly started to trend on social media.

The Kohinoor diamond, the world’s most famous and precious gemstone, is one of the main gemstones set in the crown made for the Queen Mother, Elizabeth II’s mother.

The Kohinoor, a 105-carat oval-shaped jewel now part of the crown, was mined (793 carats uncut) in Andhra Pradesh during the Kakatiyan dynasty of the 12th-14th centuries. Experts and historians record its possession in the hands of Moguls, Persians, the Afghans, the Sikhs, and the British.

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Author and columnist Monidipa Bose-Dey tweeted a brief history of this precious gemstone: “The Kohinoor was owned by the Kakatiya dynasty. Malik kafur attacked Warangal fort 5 times, which was capital of the Kakatiyas. The deadliest attack was launched during the 2nd attack in 1309, when diff Kakatiyan cities were brutally destroyed by Khilji’s army.”

When the Persian Emperor Nader Shah, the conquerer of Delhi in 1739, saw the diamond, he exclaimed “En Koh-i-Noore” – “This is a Mountain of Light!” in Persian.

Maharajah Ranjit Singh brought it back to India from Shah Shujah Durrani. However, it was then looted by the British during the annexation of Punjab.

The East India Company took the Kohinoor diamond in the late 1840s by threatening 10-year-old Maharajah Dunjeep Singh to surrender his lands and possessions.

The diamond was then presented to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who got it recut and set in the crowns of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary before being placed in the Queen Mother’s crown in 1937. The Queen Mother also wore the crown at her daughter’s coronation in 1953.

Now with the death of the Queen, many Twitter users in India have demanded that Kohinoor diamond must be returned to its rightful owner.

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Analyst and author Saurav Dutt said in a tweet: “Speaking of big, the Kohinoor diamond should be dispatched back to Indian hands with haste and alacrity.”

In April 2016, the Indian government stated it would make “all possible efforts” to arrange the return of the Kohinoor diamond to India.

Shri Mahant Sudhirdas Maharaj reminded netizens that chances of getting Kohinoor back to India are dull as in 2016 the government today told the Supreme Court that “it cannot force the United Kingdom to return the famous jewel to India since it was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away, but gifted to the British.

Rupa Murthy tweeted that even if it was “gifted” India should get the diamond back: “Can INDIA get her #KohinoorDiamond, and the precious Indian artefacts, “gifted by British to British” that are housed in the British museum, back now?

In 1976, Pakistan has also asserted its ownership over the diamond. And in a response to Pakistan’s request, Prime Minister of the UK James Callaghan wrote a letter to his counterpart Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Prime Minister of the UK James Callaghan and his Pakistani counterpart Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Callaghan wrote:

“I need not remind you of the various hands through which the stone has passed over the past two centuries, nor that explicit provision for its transfer to the British crown was made in the peace treaty with the Maharajah of Lahore in 1849. I could not advise Her Majesty that it should be surrendered.”

In 2019, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary also reiterated that the Kohinoor diamond “must be returned to Lahore museum, where it belongs.”

Interestingly, the Taliban too has demanded the return of the Kohinoor. The Taliban’s foreign affairs spokesman said earlier that the diamond was the ‘legitimate property’ of Afghanistan and should be handed back to them than India “as soon as possible.”

With the accession of Prince Charles as His Majesty The King Charles III, his wife the Queen Consort Camilla will receive the Queen Mother’s Kohinoor crown. 

Even with bleak chances to get the Kohinoor back, Indians are still hopeful that King Charles III should come forward and acknowledge the dark history of both the Kohinoor diamond and the British Raj.