The Indian ministry of culture says it is still wants to reclaim the Koh-i-noor diamond from Britain, despite telling the country’s Supreme Court otherwise.
The Koh-i-noor diamond came into British hands in the 19th Century and is part of the Crown Jewels on show at the Tower of London.
Ownership of the priceless stone is an emotional issue for many Indians, who believe it was stolen by the British.
On April 18, India’s solicitor-general had told the court that it was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken”.
Ranjit Kumar, who was representing India’s government in the hearing, had said the 105-carat diamond had been “gifted” to the East India company by the former rulers of Punjab in 1849.
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However, a statement by India’s ministry of culture on April 19 said the government “further reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Koh-i-noor diamond in an amicable manner”.
Ranjit Kumar’s comments, which elicited surprise in India, did not represent the views of the government, the statement said. The official submission to the court has yet to be made, it added.
The case is being heard by the Supreme Court in Delhi after an Indian NGO filed a petition asking the court to direct the Indian government to bring back the diamond.
The court is still considering the issue, and said it did not want to dismiss the petition as it could “stand in the way” of future attempts to bring back items that once belonged to India.
Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, said in 2009 that it should be returned as “atonement for the colonial past”.
However, Britain has consistently refused to part with the gem – most recently, PM David Cameron said in 2013 he did not think returning it was “sensible”.
The Indian media, however, is divided over the issue with some papers urging the government to do whatever is necessary to secure the return of the diamond, while others question whether it should be such a high priority.
The Koh-i-noor diamond was last worn by the late Queen Mother and was displayed on her crown when her coffin lay in state after her death in 2002.
A video footage shows the new Czech president, Milos Zeman, clearly worse for wear, propping himself up against a wall at a public event, struggling to negotiate a step and being aided by a cardinal.
Milos Zeman, 68, makes no secret of his drinking. But on this occasion – a rare and highly-ceremonial public display of the Czech crown jewels last week – his office insisted he simply had a virus and subsequently needed a day or two of rest.
Since then, the video has prompted a storm of social media gags. Czechs – by far the biggest beer drinkers in the world per capita – have been posting pictures of themselves in bars getting drunk with slogans like: “Here I am getting a virus”, or “Heading out for a virus”.
Milos Zeman, a chain smoker and lover of fatty foods, often extols the virtues of booze. On one occasion, the president praised Winston Churchill for his love of whisky and pointed out that Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler and vegetarian – “and you know how he ended up”.
During a 1996 election campaign Milos Zeman said his campaign bus “drove on gas and Becherovka”, a popular Czech liquor. Two years later he became prime minister.
Footage shows President Milos Zeman clearly the worse for wear at a rare public display of the Czech crown jewels
A tabloid in the Czech Republic once claimed Milos Zeman told the paper he would drink on average six glasses of wine – plus three shots – on any given day.
His unsuccessful rival in this year’s presidential election, the nobleman Karel Schwarzenberg, couldn’t help but take a swipe at his opponent’s taste for alcohol.
“Milos Zeman was in my opinion one of the most intelligent prime ministers this country has ever had,” Karel Schwarzenberg said during the campaign.
“And had he not drunk so much he’d have been a really good prime minister,” he added.
Milos Zeman insists he’s so used to drinking that it never has any ill effects, and he has openly challenged anyone to prove otherwise.
“If anyone has ever seen me drunk in my life, tell me when,” Milos Zeman said during the presidential election campaign.
Miroslava Nemcova, the speaker for Parliament’s lower house and one of seven holders of the keys to the Czech crown jewels, was the only person at last week’s event to comment on Milos Zeman’s appearance.
“I saw what you saw,” she was quoted as saying on the Lidove Noviny daily’s website Friday.
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