The 108-carat Kohinoor diamond was "surrendered" by the Maharaja of Lahore to the Queen of England and "not handed over" to the British nearly 170 years ago, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said in reply to an RTI query by a Ludhiana-based activist.
Incidentally, the written response from ASI, dated October 10, is divergent from the Centre's version in the Supreme Court in April 2016.
The Kohinoor diamond, estimated to cost over $200 million, was neither stolen nor "forcibly" taken by British rulers but given to East India Company by erstwhile rulers of Punjab, the government had told the top court.
Rohit Sabharwal Tuesday said he had filed an RTI query about a month ago, seeking the answer from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). "I did not know that the query was forwarded to the ASI, which eventually responded to the query."
"As per the records kept in the National Archives of India, New Delhi... the Lahore treaty held between Lord Dalhousie and Maharaja Duleep Singh in 1849, Kohinoor diamond was surrendered by the Maharaja of Lahore to the Queen of England," according to the reply.
Kohinoor, which means 'Mountain of Light', is a large, colourless diamond that was found in Southern India in early 14th century. The precious gem, which came into British hands during the colonial era, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and claimed by at least four countries, including India.