Britain Did Not Steal the Kohinoor Diamond says Indian Government

Day before yesterday, for the first time the Indian government said that Britain did not steal the famous Kohinoor diamond. 
The 105-carat Kohinoor diamond, which is part of the British crown jewels, sits in the Tower of London. The stone has been a point of controversy and disagreement between India and Britain ever since it was taken from the Punjab and presented to Queen Victoria in 1849. India’s top court held the hearing as a response to a public petition calling on New Delhi to spell out its policy on the gem.

This long standing dispute appears to be at an end as of April 17th when India’s solicitor-general told a judge that, in the opinion of the culture ministry, the diamond had not been “forcibly taken” but was a gift."Kohinoor cannot be said to be forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars," said Ranjit Kumar.

The massive Kohinoor diamond is thought to have been mined in southern India in the 1300s. Over the centuries it changed hands many times passing from Mughal emperors, Afghan warlords and Indian Maharajas. Because of the tragic and bloody fates of previous owners the Kohinoor, which means Mountain of Light, came to be feared as “cursed”. The 105 carat jewel was in the possession of the rulers of Punjab's Sikh Empire when the Anglo-Sikh wars broke out in the late 1840s.

The jewel was in the possession of the rulers of Punjab's Sikh Empire when the Anglo-Sikh wars broke out in the late 1840s. The East India Company, acting for the British Crown, aided the Maharaja in securing victory and the Maharaja subsequently presented the diamond as compensation under the Treaty of Lahore. The diamond now adorns the queen consort’s crown. 

At the court hearing Mr. Kumar cited a 43-year-old law that does not allow the government to bring back antiquities taken out of the country before independence unless they were illegally exported. The reason for the apparent reversal in position was not immediately clear, although Mr Kumar told the court that if India claimed treasures like Kohinoor from other countries, “every other nation will start claiming their items from us”.  Pakistan has also argued ownership of the diamond, saying that the area of the Punjab where the jewel was taken from is actually in present-day Pakistan.

Mr. Kumar's statement is quite similar to comments made by David Cameron during a visit to India in 2010, when he was asked if Britain would ever return the gem. Britain has always maintained that the diamond was "legitimately acquired”, and its ownership "non-negotiable." "If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty,” said the Prime Minister. "I think I'm afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it's going to have to say put."

The solicitor-general's comments were criticized by many Indians. “The Kohinoor is the essence of the country. They should bring back to India, it is the responsibly of the central government” said Anthony Raju of the All India Human Rights & Social Justice Front, an NGO. “This jewel has been taken by the British people. It was looted, not gifted. Maybe it’s just too difficult for the government to get it back.”  

The Kohinoor diamond, set in the Maltese Cross at the front of the Queen Mother's crown CREDIT: ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST

Colombia: Treasure Galleon

Originally reported by the BBC:
The wreck of a Spanish ship laden with treasure that was sunk by the British more than 300 years ago has been found off the Colombian coast, says President Juan Manuel Santos.
"Great news! We have found the San Jose galleon," the president tweeted.
The wreck was discovered near the port city of Cartagena.
It has been described as the holy grail of shipwrecks, as the ship was carrying one of the largest amounts of valuables ever to have been lost at sea.
Mr Santos said the cargo was worth at least $1bn (£662m).
The San Jose was carrying gold, silver, gems and jewellery collected in the South American colonies to be shipped to Spain's king to help finance his war of succession against the British when it was sunk in June 1708.
The vessel was attacked by a British warship just outside Cartagena.
Colombian officials would not reveal the precise location of the wreck, but Mr Santos said the find "constitutes one of the greatest - if not the biggest, as some say - discoveries of submerged patrimony in the history of mankind".
He said that a museum would be built in Cartagena to house the ship's treasures. 
Ownership of the wreck has been the subject of a long-running legal row.
The Colombian government did not mention its long-running quarrel with US-based salvage company Sea Search Armada (SSA) over claims to the treasure.
A group now owned by SSA said in 1981 that it had located the area in which the ship sank.
SSA has been claiming billions of dollars for breach of contract from the Colombian government, but in 2011 an American court ruled that the galleon was the property of the Colombian state.

SanJose Battle

Spanish Claims on the Ship

The Spanish government says it has rights to a sunken Spanish galleon discovered in Colombian waters.
The foreign minister says he is asking for more information about the galleon, the San Jose, found after decades of searching.
The galleon, which was sunk in 1708, belonged to Philip V of Spain. Its discovery was announced on Saturday.
The ship was attacked by the British navy as it set sail for Spain laden, it is believed, with treasure.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo said Spain wanted an amicable agreement with Colombia over the ship and its contents.
But he said Spain would be prepared to defend its interests at the UN if necessary.
The minister said that there was a UNESCO convention that stipulated that this type of wreck "belonged to the state, was the result of war, and was not a private boat".
"This can be resolved in a friendly way," Mr Garcia-Margallo said.
"They will understand our demands and that we are defending our interests just as we understand their demands and that they are defending their interests."
In 2013 Colombia approved a law to define sunken ships found in its water as national heritage.
Colombia estimates there are up to 1,200 such wrecks in its waters.
President Juan Manuel Santos said the cargo of the San Jose could be worth at least $1bn (£662m)
It has been described as the holy grail of shipwrecks, as the vessel was said to be carrying one of the largest amounts of valuables ever to have been lost at sea - gold, silver, gems and jewellery collected in the South American colonies to finance the Spanish king's war effort.

Original Articles: Colombia says treasure-laden San Jose galleon foundSpain says it has rights to Colombian treasure ship BBC