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#Reparations: Keith Vaz reiterates call for return of ‘Koh-i-Noor’ to India

Indian-origin Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has reiterated calls for Britain to return the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond to India.

Mr Vaz has long campaigned for the jewel to India as atonement for Britain’s colonial past.

The 105-Carat diamond – the original is said to have been as large as 190 carats – is thought to have been mined in Andhra Pradesh during the 13th or 14th Centuries.  It was later appropriated by the British in the mid-19th Century and “presented” to Queen Victoria.

It is currently part of Queen Elizabeth’s crown.

Mr Vaz’s latest call for the Koh-i-Noor’s return comes in the wake of a much-publicized speech by Indian politician and author Dr Shashi Tharoor at Oxford University, during which he called for the UK to pay reparations for what he described as the “plunder” of India by the British.

“I welcome Dr Tharoor’s speech and the endorsement of its message by Prime Minister Modi. I share their views”, Mr Vaz said.

Whilst paying monetary reparations would be “potentially fruitless”, Mr Vaz said there was no excuse for not returning items that belong to India.

“These are genuine grievances which must be addressed. 

“Pursuing monetary reparations is complex, time consuming and potentially fruitless, but there is no excuse for not returning precious items such as the Koh-i-Noor diamond, a campaign I have backed for many years”, he added. 

Mr Vaz said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Britain could be the ideal time to put to rest the issue of the Koh-i-Noor.

“Prime Minister Modi is due to arrive in the United Kingdom in November, and Prime Minister Cameron has gone out of his way to maintain a strong bilateral relationship”, Mr Vaz said.

“What a wonderful moment it would be, if when Prime Minister Modi finishes his visit, which is much overdue, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond’s return.”

Mr Cameron has previously rejected calls for the diamond’s return to India.

During his visit to India in 2010, he said: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty.  I think I’m afraid it’s going to have to stay put.”

 

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