It's not often that a solicitor general's comments make international waves, but Indian Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar has managed to achieve such a feat. He told his country's Supreme Court on Monday that the Koh-i-Noor diamond, in Britain's possession since 1849, "was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away" from India, but was bestowed on Queen Victoria for Britain's help in the Sikh wars. As such, he suggested the country should relinquish its claim to the gem. Not so, now says the very government he was representing in court. The ministry of culture on Tuesday issued a statement saying India "further reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Koh-i-noor diamond in an amicable manner."
The diamond is said to have surfaced in the 1300s and gained a reputation as "unlucky for men to wear" as it passed from Mughal princes to Afghan rulers, writes the Guardian. The Wall Street Journal explains that an Indian NGO in March filed a petition that seeks to have the court make the country go after the gem, and the government says Kumar was communicating only the historical position the country has taken; Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did go on record decades ago saying India didn't have a solid claim to the gem. Kumar has been tasked with "seek[ing] the views" of India, and those have yet to be conveyed to the court, per the statement. Geeta Pandey of the BBC says the culture ministry "misread the popular mood," and the swift backlash led the prime minister's office to get involved. Read more on the stone here. (Read more diamond stories.)