The 105-karat Kohinoor diamond that once adorned the headdress of an Indian king now sits pretty in a London museum. It’s been 166 years since the British coerced a gullible teenager raja to give away the precious stone, in return for his ‘safety’.
In 1850, the Maharaja of Punjab, Duleep Singh, “gifted” the Kohinoor to the East India Company, not because he was besotted by the British Kingdom, but because he was intimidated, and he feared for his life.
In a recent statement, the ministry of culture said that India should not stake claim to the famed $200 million-diamond as “it was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away”. The celebrated Kohinoor was a personal property, and not something that the East India Company owned.
After all these years, the Indian government now has little legitimacy to lay claim on a “gift” made by a monarch much before Independence. And to get it back, even a British court would mean much expense and a long, long fight. Moreover, both Pakistan and Bangladesh, the erstwhile parts of undivided India, will lay claim to it.
The Kohinoor is better off in the “custody” of the British. We wouldn’t want it back for it might lead to major blood spill in the subcontinent. However, Indians would rather prefer something else back from Britain.
Yes, we are talking of our own Indian truant, who fled from India on March 1, and is now sitting pretty in England. Vijay Mallya, the liquor baron and the owner of defunct airlines, had used Rs 430 crore to acquire properties abroad, while his employees perished in economic crisis.
And the typical brat that the 60-year-old millionaire is, hehas refused to appear in India. Mallya has already skipped three summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Vijay Mallya will very soon become a man wanted by the Interpol. In all probability, he must be mouthing the popular filmi lines, “Vijay ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin … namumkin hai”, given his strong tilt for the Bollywood industry.
The ED is likely to seek Interpol’s cooperation to get Mallya deported to India. A non-bailable warrant has already been issued by a Mumbai court on April 18. We would say, England can keep the Kohinoor, but give us Mallya back, for several people, including the court need to settle scores with him.
A soft approach towards the fleeing man will not only set a bad example for other corrupt rich people, but it will also mean gross injustice to the middle class who are hassled by the banks for not being able to repay those mere thousands of rupees.