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JLF 2017: The gory history of the Kohinoor

Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 Updated: Jan 20, 2017 16:53 IST
Mariyam Alavi
Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times
Kohinoor

(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

A lot of Indian dreams may have been squashed when Anita Anand, a journalist and writer, claimed that “the Kohinoor right now belongs to the British crown, as where it is, and as by treaty,” at a Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) session on Friday.

Anand was speaking, with William Dalrymple, about their new book, The Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond that traces the sometimes bloody history of the stone, and was responding to moderator Swapan Dasgupta’s question: to whom does the Kohinoor belong?

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“We have deliberately not taken a position on this (in the book),” said Anand, explaining how the authors understood the sentimental value of the Kohinoor. She said that during visits to the Tower of London to catch a glimpse of the stone, you can hear angry Indians “hissing” and cussing!

“This is a thing that everybody feels strongly about. The Iranians feel strongly about it. The Afghans feel strongly about it (as do the Indians and Pakistanis). So we did not take a side, and presented, as clearly as we could, the facts, which we believe everybody else has got wrong. So now if anybody wants to ‘claim’ the stone, here is the evidence that they need,” said Dalrymple.

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Anand and Dalrymple kept the audiences enthralled through the session. “I loved how they broke down the gory history associated with the diamond and the fables of bad luck associated with it. It was all very fascinating,” said Ankita, an undergraduate student from Delhi.

The history of the Kohinoor is certainly gory. “Game of Thrones does not have anything on this!” Anand said.

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