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The Indian government is not asking for the return of the Koh-i-Noor diamond

Despite what press coverage may imply, the Indian Government has stated that (for whatever reasons) it is not trying to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond [1] to India. The people of India may be asking for the return of this (& other artefacts), but clearly the government would prefer not to be involved. The statement by the government may be for diplomatic reasons as they do not want to enter into an argument with Britain, or it could be that they see it as campaign that unfortunately has little chance of success.

The Hindu [2]

New Delhi, August 18, 2010
No plans to bring back the Kohinoor: Centre

Demands from several quarters for the return of the Kohinoor from Britain notwithstanding, the government on Wednesday said it has no plans to bring the precious diamond back to the country.

It also said it was not contemplating to bring the Peacock Throne from Iran as these items are not covered under the UNESCO convention that deals with restitution of cultural property.

The 105-carat gemstone, which was mined in Andhra Pradesh and is set in the coronation crown of the British royals, is now kept at the Tower of London, a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in the British capital.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Planning V. Narayanasamy said the government was not contemplating to bring back the Kohinoor diamond and the Peacock Throne.

?These items are not covered even under the UNESCO Convention, 1972 dealing with the restitution of cultural property,? Mr. Narayanasamy, who also holds ad-hoc charge of Culture Minister, said.

The comments assume significance in the wake of British Prime Minister David Cameron ruling out returning the precious diamond during his recent India visit.

?If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty. I think I?m afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it?s going to have to stay put,? Mr. Cameron had said last month.

The diamond, which belonged to various Hindu, Mughal and British rulers, was finally seized by the East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877.

Various cultural organisations have demanding that India ask Britain to return the diamond to it, but the Indian government has maintained silence on the issue.

The issue of the Kohinoor?s return to India gained prominence after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) joined an international network for the return of priceless artefacts taken away during British rule.

In June, ASI Director-General Gautam Sengupta had said that the list of India?s treasures held abroad was ?too long to handle? and there was a need for a ?diplomatic and legal campaign? for their restitution from institutions, including the British Museum, the Royal Collection and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

However, British Museums have been maintaining that they were satisfied that the items were acquired legitimately.

The Peacock Throne was ornamented with a golden peacock whose outspread tail was made of precious gems and whose body was studded with stones.