Twitter demands for the return of the Kohinoor back to India are well grounded


Rachel Choi

Illustration by Rachel Choi

By Mariyam Quaisar, Managing Editor

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Indians are demanding the return of the Kohinoor diamond, which is set in a crown made for Queen Elizabeth I. While this request may seem insensitive to some because of the timing, it is long overdue and completely valid. 

On the front and center of the Queen Mother’s crown is a 105-carat, oval-shaped jewel proudly known as the Kohinoor, which means “mountain of light.” It was first mined in Kollur Mine, India during the Kakatiya dynasty of the 12th-14th centuries, when it was about 186 carats. After this precious diamond was consecutively stolen by various groups—the Mughals, the Persians, and the Afghans—amidst several periods of violence, the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh successfully brought it back to India in 1813. 

Unfortunately, the prized possession was seized once again from Ranjit Singh’s 11-year-old son, Duleep Singh, by the British East India Company in the late 1840s during the annexation of Punjab. The innocent boy was coerced into signing the Treaty of Lahore, which ended the Anglo-Sikh war, but also required Sikhs to hand over Kashmir, Hazara, and Jalandhar Doab to the Britishers. The cherry on top: the treaty included a provision that Duleep would drop the precious Kohinoor in the hands of Lord Dalhousie, a Scottish statesman and governor-general of India *eye roll*.  

The British East India Company, a multinational corporation established for trading, was sent to India as traders in spices with a royal charter by the British royals. As we all know, white people love to colonize, and that is exactly what the British Company did after their establishment in India. A period of time known as the British Raj (rule) lasted from 1858-1947.

When the Kohinoor was unveiled to the public of England, at the Great Exhibition of 1851, many Britishers exposed the British East India Company’s plunder imperialism in India. Obviously, someone recognized it, but did anyone do anything about it? No.

Instead, the Kohinoor was presented to Queen Victoria. Prince Consort Albert had it recut to mitigate the scandals in England, then placed in the crowns of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary before the stunning jewel was eventually set in the Queen Mother’s crown in 1937. The diamond became a member of the British crown jewels, never to be seen by the land where it originated again. 

Queen Elizabeth II’s death has prompted Twitter users to demand the return of the diamond to its rightful home—definitely a reasonable request. Various memes and tweets are soaring through the internet trolling the UK for being thieves and plotting hilarious means to steal the diamond back. 

Jokes aside, though, since the time the Kohinoor was snatched from Duleep Singh through stealth and deception, Indians have sought the Kohinoor’s return. When India finally gained independence from British colonizers in 1947, the government asked for it back. Then asked again at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. But, of course, the group of people known for colonizing several parts of the world denied the requests under the idea that there were “no legal grounds” for the Kohinoor’s restitution.

I just have one question: what were the legal grounds for Britishers to colonize occupied land, murder millions of people, and steal goods? Oh right, there were none. 

Despite numerous polite requests, many believe the chances of the diamond’s return to be extremely slim. Unfortunately, I believe the same. The British royal establishment is in love with its delusional superior colonial power and the beautiful Kohinoor is a symbol of that nonexistent power which may remain clutched in its grimy hands.

A petition to return the Kohinoor was posted on LinkedIn by Venktesh Shukla, the founder and managing partner of investment company Monta Vista Capital. Shukla aims to get a million signatures, his ambitious goal driven by his strong belief that “the British should return the Kohinoor diamond to India now.” He labels the UK as an honorable country, saying the honorable action to take is to return the “loot” to its rightful owner. Additionally, Shukla says those in support all over the world should go to their closest embassy or consulate of the UK to present this petition in a peaceful manner. 

As this movement continues, the British royals will have to respond. If the comment is not, verbatim, “we are so sorry we suck, we will return your property with interest” then I expect Indians to continue their insistence. The British colonization of India still holds a sensitive place in everyone’s heart, and the stolen Kohinoor is the symbol of this dark time. Indians are showing consistent strength and perseverance as they rightfully demand the return of the “mountain of light.”