Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffery is one Pakistani who does not believe in letting sleeping dogs lie. He’s taken on no less than Queen Elizabeth II, citing her as respondent in a petition filed in court for custody of the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Jaffery’s petition comes in the wake of a declaration, some weeks ago, by an Indian pressure group to instruct lawyers to begin proceedings in London’s High Court for the return of the famous gem to India, saying it rightly belongs there.
The Koh-i-Noor, part of the Crown Jewels belonging to the British Royals, has a most contentious history. Mined in the 13th century in Andhra Pradesh, it has been in the possession of Mughal princes, Persian warlords, Afghan rulers and Punjabi maharajas.
The name Koh-i-Noor, meaning ‘mountain of light’, was given to it by Persian ruler Nadir Shah, who was astounded by its beauty. Its last owner was Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, who willed it to a Hindu temple after his death.
However, the British East India Company and British Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, had no intention of honouring Ranjit Singh’s will. They conspired to force the Maharaja’s heir, Dulip Singh to ‘present’ the jewel to Queen Victoria after Punjab was annexed to British rule. It is on display at present, among other objects gained by loot and plunder, at the Crown Jewels exhibit in the Tower of London.
True to ‘gora’ form and mentality, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared in 2010 that the diamond was ‘staying put’ in England, as returning it to India would ‘set impractical precedents’.
What can we say but, ‘Ji Huzoor!’