A day after claiming the priceless Kohinoor diamond was gifted to British rulers during the colonial period, the Indian government swiftly back-tracked and said it would make all efforts to bring the gem back from the UK.
Following widespread criticism, India's culture ministry issued a statement saying the government is determined to "make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor diamond in an amicable manner".
"The Solicitor General of India informed the honourable court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the ASI [Archaeological Survey of India]. Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented."
"Government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in India."
Only a day earlier, the federal government argued at the Supreme Court that the 105-carat diamond – an iconic symbol of India's rich past – was gifted to the British and was "neither stolen nor forcibly taken" by them. The top court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO, All India Human Rights & Social Justice Front, asking whether the government intends to bring back the diamond.
The return of the legendary diamond, which is currently on display at the Tower of London, has been a long-standing demand and an emotional topic in India. The massive diamond, which is now part of British crown jewels, has become the subject of multiple court proceedings and political controversies over the years.
When the government decided to sharply deviate from its standpoint saying the Kohinoor was given to the British as a "voluntary compensation" it irked people from several corners.
Among the outraged was the Chair of the Sikh Federation UK. Its chief Bhai Amrik Singh said in a statement sent to IBTimes UK: "Indian government rebukes Solicitor General, but it will fail to get back the Koh-i-Noor. This is a matter between the British government and the Sikhs and connected to the re-establishment of the Sikh Kingdom."