Hyderabad: Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's promise in the Assembly on Thursday to try and get the jewellery collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad back to the state may not be easy because the Centre had paid a substantial amount of money to acquire it. In 1995, the Centre paid approximately Rs 218 crore to the HEH Nizam’s Jewellery Trust for the 173-item collection. "As of now it is valued at $10 million dollars,’ said historian Dr Muhammad Safiullah.
It is said that the first Nizam acquired the core of the collection in the 1720s from the Mughals in Vijayanagar, Bidar and Golconda. “The Nizams also bought pieces from the (Russian) Czars’ collection,” Dr Safiullah said. “Almost all the articles have descended to successive rulers from the founder of the dynasty and his son and successor, and have constituted the secret personal property of my predecessors,” wrote the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, to the Centre on June 4, 1949.
In the 1970s, after the death of Prince Azam Jah, the beneficiaries of the trust tried to sell the jewellery. The Centre, citing it as a national treasure, engaged in a prolonged battle to keep the collection inside the country and finally bought the collection for Rs 218 crore in 1995. Since then, the jewellery has been kept in a vault in the RBI. It has been displayed only twice, in 2001 and 2006.
When he was Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu made efforts to bring the jewellery to the city and put it on display, but it never materialised. In 2015, the TS government announced it would bring the jewellery back, but there has been no progress in this regard, and on Thursday Mr Chandrasekhar Rao reiterated his resolve to take the matter up with the Centre. Mr Khaja Aijazuddin, a lawyer, had sought information about the jewellery under the Right to Information. In its reply, the Union ministry of culture said it bought the jewellery and so “the jewellery belongs to the Centre. The authority to hand it over to the state government or display it at any exhibition rests with the Centre.”
- The collections includes the Jacob Diamond weighing 184.75 carats and reckoned to be the world’s third best in whiteness and seventh largest in size.
- It is believed to have been mined in Africa and bought in London by a Shimla-based Jewish trader, A.M. Jacob - after whom it is named. He sold it to the sixth Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan, for Rs 23 lakh in the 19th century.
- Another coveted item is a set of 22 loose emeralds weighing 414.25 carats.
- The Nizam family had called the deal unfair as according to them the jewellery could have fetched Rs 1,500 crore in the international market in 1995.