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Cassian Baliarsingh

Following the demise of Queen Elizabeth II, there have been several reports that the Centre is gearing up to bring back the Kohinoor diamond from London.

Meanwhile, the Jagannath Sena and priests of Srimandir in Puri claimed the famed jewel originally belongs to Lord Jagannath and renewed their longstanding demand of bringing back the gem and placing it on the crown of the Lord.

They demanded that the diamond should be brought back to Puri and threatened to take the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

According to history, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled large parts of northern India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, had visited Puri to offer prayers to Lord Jagannath in 1836. During his visit, he had expressed his wish to give 50L British Pound and Kohinoor Diamond to Lord Jagannath.

Reportedly, the historical records proving Maharaja Ranjit’s wish are till today preserved by Puri servitor Harekrushna Pratihari’s family. 
However, the British invaded India and took away the diamond from Maharaja Ranjit’s son Duleep Singh. Since then, the invaluable diamond is with the British.

The Jagannath Sena claimed that several letters in this regard had been written to Queen Elizabeth II to return the diamond to Lord Jagannath. But, there was no response. Now, that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away, members of Jagannath Sena hope that Kohinoor would return back to its original owner, Lord Jagannath.

Heritage Expert, Surendra Mishra said, “The Kohinoor diamond belongs to Lord Jagannath. When Maharaja Ranjit Singh had come to Puri, he stayed at Srimandir’s Dakshina Dwara. There is written proof of it and he has clearly mentioned that he wished to offer the Kohinoor diamond to Lord Jagannath.”

“We have a lot of proof in this regard. We should inform the world that Kohinoor is from Odisha. Odisha government and Centre should take up the issue and take immediate steps to bring it back to Jagannath Temple,” he added.

“There are historical records to prove it. We are determined to get it back at any cost. If need be, we will go to the International Court of Justice. We are ready to do anything for Lord Jagannath,” said Priyadarshan Pattnayak, convenor of Jagannath Sena.

According to legends, the jewel was first mined in Golkonda Mine. It weighed around 186 carats, but was reduced to 105.6 carats by the British. The diamond was found during the Kakatiya dynasty but was later acquired by Alauddin Khilji.

The diamond then changed hands between various factions until being ceded to Queen Victoria during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit’s son Duleep Singh. Apart from India, governments of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have all claimed their ownership over the diamond. 

However, the British government insists the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore.

“In 2016, when the matter over Kohinoor was heard, then Solicitor General of India had said that Kohinoor was neither stolen nor taken by force. This was a treaty by the East India Company. But, with the change in government, it is high time that Centre takes up the issue once again and reclaim it,” said former diplomat Abasar Beuria.

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