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Mumbai resident leaves no stone unturned to get Kohinoor diamond back to India

The Bandra resident has written to the Queen of UK, the UN and Barack Obama in his bid to bring back the Kohinoor to India.

mumbai Updated: Jun 04, 2018 10:36 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
mumbai,kohinoor,diamond
38-year-old Vinod Dsouza’s journey in bringing back the Kohinoor diamond began ten years ago.(HT Photo)

Thirty-eight-year-old Bandra resident Vinod Roshan D’souza’s interest in the Kohinoor diamond was kindled ten years ago, while reading an article online. Curious about the circumstances which led to the East India Company’s possession of the famed diamond, he began to read books and articles about the Kohinoor. Soon enough, he was inspired to do his bit to get the diamond back to India. In his first attempt, he wrote to the Queen of the United Kingdom (UK).

“When I started reading about it, the fact that a 10-year-old king, from the Sikh kingdom of Punjab, would take the decision to gift this precious object did not sound convincing to me. So I wrote to the Queen.In response to my letter, the UK’s department for culture, media, and sports wrote to me, saying that though it is cultural property, the government cannot take a decision over it,” said D’souza.

Although he did not receive the positive response he hoped for, he decided to continue his endeavour. During this process, he got in touch with Khvaja Ameen, a 51-year-old fashion designer, who helped him get more information about the era.

“My grandfather was a wealthy businessman in those days and was privy to such information. I spoke to my father about this, and passed this information on to Vinod. If Ambedkar’s bungalow in London can be acquired by us, Tipu Sultan’s sword can be brought back, why can’t the Kohinoor diamond be returned?” said Ameen.

In late 2009, D’souza also wrote to the then President of the United States, Barack Obama, seeking his help in the ‘quest to get the Kohinoor diamond back.’ After writing to Obama, he was directed to write to the United Nations.

“When I approached the United Nations, I was told that they could take up the issue if the official member of UNESCO presented it in assembly. For this reason, in 2010, I wrote to the Indian government’s ministry of culture. But the government at the time was not keen on pursuing this issue,” D’Souza said.

When the new government took charge, D’souza write to the ministry of culture once again. He was hopeful when PM Modi even brought up the issue during his visit to London. However, D’souza was disappointed when it was not taken further.

In his latest attempt, he wrote again to the UK’s department for culture, media, and sports. The ministerial support team informed Roshan that the diamond could not be returned as the Queen received it as part of the Treaty of Lahore, 1849 and is currently set in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth. HT tried to contact the UK department, but has not yet received a response.

“It seems like a lost battle now because apart from India, even Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the Taliban have claimed ownership to the diamond. But the fact that the stone has passed through the hands of Mughals, Iranians, Afghans and Sikhs makes it important for India’s history,” D’Souza said. In 2016, the Ministry of culture, Government of India, had said that they were “exploring ways and means for obtaining a satisfactory resolution” to the Kohinoor issue with Britain.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 10:31 IST