Keith Vaz, the longest serving MP of Asian origin, has called for the Kohinoor diamond to be returned to India during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London in November.
Vaz raised the demand following Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s widely-watched speech at the Oxford Union in which he suggested that Britain should pay reparations for the depredations during British rule in India.
A Labour MP, Vaz said in a statement: “I welcome Tharoor’s speech and the endorsement of its message by PM Modi. I share their views. These are genuine grievances which must be addressed”.
He added: “Pursuing monetary reparations is complex, time consuming and potentially fruitless, but there is no excuse for not returning precious items such as the Kohinoor diamond, a campaign I have backed for many years.”
Vaz said: “PM Modi is due to arrive in the UK in November and Prime Minister Cameron has gone out of his way to maintain a strong bilateral relationship. What a wonderful moment it would be, if when PM Modi finishes his visit, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond’s return.”
Kohinoor is considered to be one of the oldest and most famous diamonds in the world, with a long history. There have been demands for its return to India, most recently in 2013 when Cameron visited India.
However, he had rejected suggestions for the return of the giant diamond presented to Queen Victoria in 1850.