The demand for the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to India is set to outshine Prime Minister Narendra Modi's UK visit this week, as an Indian lobby has initiated legal proceedings against Queen Elizabeth over the "stolen" stone.
A lobby of Indian businessmen and actors, which calls itself the "Mountain of Light", has reportedly asked British lawyers to sue the Queen over the return of the 105-carat stone.
The Koh-i-noor was said to have been found in India eight centuries ago, and was presented to Queen Victoria during the British colonial rule. It still sits in the crown that was worn by the former Queen at the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and at Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953; it has now been preserved at the Tower of London.
The Indian group is now demanding the return of the diamond, and its legal action comes just ahead of Modi's maiden visit to the UK as the Indian Prime Minister, during which he is scheduled to dine with the Queen at the Buckingham Palace.
The British lawyers hired by the Indian lobby are expected to begin proceedings based on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which empowers British institutions to return art alleged to be stolen.
"The Koh-i-Noor is one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstances. Colonisation did not only rob our people of wealth, it destroyed the country's psyche itself. It brutalised society, traces of which linger on today in the form of mass poverty, lack of education and a host of other factors," David De Souza, a member of the Indian group, told British media.
Even Indian-origin British lawmakers are supporting the demand for the return of the Koh-i-noor to India.
"What a wonderful moment it would be, if when PM Modi finishes his visit, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond's return," Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz has reportedly said.
Modi will visit the UK for a three-day trip from 12 November, during which he will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, have lunch with the Queen and address a large Indian diaspora at the Wembley Stadium in London.
While Modi's UK visit, particularly his address to the Indian community in London, is likely to be dulled by his party's colossal defeat in the Bihar assembly election, any positive development on the possible return of the Koh-i-noor will help in reinvigorating his supporters.