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Kohinoor, The Bitter Sweet Jewel of History

Saturday - December 16, 2017 8:09 pm , Category : WTN SPECIAL

The Koh-i-Noor is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing in its current state at 105.6 carats and kept in the UK being part of the British Crown Jewels.

The antecedents of the jewel and the story of its travel to England are as interesting as they are mysterious and politically charged. For one, many of us believe the Kohinoor was an asset of the Moguls in India which was plundered away by the British rulers and kept in their country hence. India has been demanding it back right from 1947 after she gained independence, raking up the issue from time to time, but the British have always rejected her claims and citing the 1849 Last Treaty of Lahore, consider themselves the rightful owners of the precious stone. The diamond is on display at the Tower of London (Jewel House) which is seen by millions of visitors from across the world every year for its enigmatic fame, size and value.

It is estimated that the diamond has a market value of a whopping two million British pounds.  Technically speaking the diamond belongs to India, even if countries like Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan also have staked claim for the same at different times. In all likelihood Kohinoor was first found in a mine near the Krishna river in modern Andhra Pradesh. The first reference of a 186 carat diamond was found in the first Mogul ruler Babur’s diary. It is said that the diamond was first acquired by Alauddin Khilji during his southern expeditions and it passed on to his succeeding generations before finally coming in the hands of Babar as a tribute for winning the Panipat battle in 1526. It was studded in Shah Jahan’s famous peacock throne before coming down to Aurangazeb. In 1739, during Nadir Shah’s invasion, much of the Mogul wealth was carried away, which included the Kohinoor. After Nadir Shah’s death, the empire disintegrated and the Kohinoor was then with his grandson who gave it to Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Durrani in lieu of his support in 1751. Durrani’s successor down the line one Shujah was overthrown in 1809 and he fled with the diamond to Lahore where he gave it to Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire in exchange of his support. This way, after almost a century, the Kohinoor was back in India’s possession. It was in 1849 that after the second Anglo-Sikh war Punjab was annexed by the British that the Lahore Treaty was signed, through which all the king’s assets was ceded to the company rule while the diamond went to the reigning queen Victoria. Thereon, the Kohinoor never came back to India and remained a property of the English royalty as it still does.

The 186 carats now stand at 105.6 carats after the dull looking diamond was cut and polished to make it glittery. The unique feature of this diamond is that brilliant cut diamonds have 58 facets but the Kohinoor has eight extra cuts making it a 66-faceted diamond, which has no peer. Legally the English never ‘stole’ the Kohinoor as is rumoured.  They prepared the treaty in a way as winning sides always do. The benefits had to be theirs. Having said that, it must be admitted that the Kohinoor, no matter how precious and unique it is, doesn’t have much more than face value. It is a matter of historical affiliation and prestige for India and no more than that. It is not some mine which could boost India’s economy.

It had a glorious and chequered past no doubt and its value lies in that history. Just as we cannot reconstruct history or go back to it, the dispute over the Kohinoor is better put to rest if that brings peace. The Kohinoor had a rollercoaster ride all through its 500-year history. Let it rest in peace too!-Window To News

 
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