ASI denies fresh move to get back Kohinoor

July 26th, 2010 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Monday said it has not initiated any move to bring the fabled Kohinoor diamond back to India.
“The last attempt made by the antiquities and museum department of the ASI to bring the diamond that was worn by empresses Noor Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal back to India was almost seven years ago. The ASI had moved the British government with a formal request, but it did not yield fruit,” Urmila Sant, director of antiquities and museum department of ASI, told IANS.

“But we would always love to get it back. It could pave the way for the return of other artefacts too. But the government has to initiate the move,” Sant said, denying reports that the ASI had requested the British government last month to return the jewel to India.

Joint Director General of ASI B.R. Mani said: “He was not aware of any such move. Director General Gautam Sengupta was out of the country.

The latest move to get the Kohinoor back since it left the country 161 years ago surfaced when Keith Vaz, a British MP of Indian origin, told British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the issue of “returning the jewel” during his visit to India next week.

“I believe it is a perfect opportunity for the prime minister to discuss the issue of Kohinoor. It would be fitting for the Kohinoor to return to the country in which it was mined 161 years after it was removed from India,” Vaz said in a statement.

The diamond was taken to England in 1849 following the defeat of Maharaja Duleep Singh. It was also owned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The stone was first mentioned in the Baburnamah.

The diamond which weighed 793 carats at the time it was mined was later cut down to 193 carats. It was named Kohinoor (The Mountain of Light) by Nadir Shah.

It is believed that the Kohinoor carries a curse, and only when it is in the possession of a woman the curse does not work. All men who have owned it have either lost their throne or suffered misfortunes. The stone after it left India has adorned the jewels of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.

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