India Plans Repatriation Campaign for Colonial Era Artifacts, Including Kohinoor Diamond, from UK

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India is reportedly preparing to launch a repatriation campaign aimed at retrieving artifacts dating back to the colonial era, including the highly controversial Kohinoor diamond, currently housed in museums across the United Kingdom. The initiative is said to be a priority for the Narendra Modi-led government and is expected to influence diplomatic and trade discussions between the two countries. According to an article in “The Daily Telegraph,” the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is taking the lead in efforts to reclaim objects that were “trafficked” out of the country since India gained independence. New Delhi officials are reportedly coordinating with diplomats in London to formally request the return of artifacts held by institutions that obtained them as “spoils of war” or through collectors during the colonial period.

The repatriation process will likely begin with smaller museums and private collectors who may be more inclined to voluntarily surrender Indian artifacts. Subsequently, efforts will be directed towards larger institutions and even the Royal collections, which are believed to possess numerous historically significant items.Indian officials view the return of these cultural artifacts as a means of strengthening national identity and heritage. Lily Pandeya, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, emphasized their importance, stating, “Antiquities have both physical and intangible value; they are part of the continuity of cultural heritage, community, and national identity. By reclaiming these artifacts, we safeguard this value and preserve the continuity of knowledge and community. “Among the coveted artifacts is the Kohinoor diamond, also known as the Koh-i-Noor or “mountain of light” in Persian. The 105-carat diamond was once possessed by Indian rulers before coming into the possession of the East India Company from the treasury of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was later presented to Queen Victoria after the annexation of Punjab.

The recent Coronation ceremony raised attention to the Kohinoor, as Queen Camilla tactfully avoided a potential diplomatic dispute by selecting alternative diamonds for her consort’s crown. The Kohinoor has long been a source of contention between India and the UK, with India asserting its claim and advocating for its return to its country of origin. As India initiates this repatriation campaign, it seeks to reclaim its cultural treasures and restore a sense of pride and continuity to its rich history.

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