Nagaland: ‘Diamonds’ spark frenzy in Wanching

Pictures circulated on social media of what were claimed to be diamonds. (Left) The purported (polished) crystals. This, however, appeared to be downloaded stock image. (Right) Two unpolished chunks reportedly dug up in Wanching.
Pictures circulated on social media of what were claimed to be diamonds. (Left) The purported (polished) crystals. This, however, appeared to be downloaded stock image. (Right) Two unpolished chunks reportedly dug up in Wanching.

Morung Express news 
Dimapur/Kohima | November 26

A purported ‘diamond rush’ in a village in Mon had Nagaland in a state of excitement today. Videos and pictures, supposed to have been taken by Wanching (Mon) villagers scrambling to dig up a hillside, did the rounds on social media today sparking doubt and thrill in equal measure.   

Captions accompanying pictures and video clippings from the site proclaimed what was believed to be diamonds. To the untrained eye, the finds from the digging expedition was diamonds— shiny, solid and crystalline. 

It even had the Department of Geology and Mining jumping to action, ordering an investigation by a team of geologists to verify the claims. 

Meanwhile, geologists had their doubts given that Nagaland and the immediate neighbourhood has no known record of diamonds in its soil. 

One retired geologist was asked to comment on the claims by The Morung Express. He based his comment on the accepted scientific definition of how diamonds form— under very high temperature and pressure deep in the bowels of the earth. 

Volcanic eruptions and ‘kimberlite pipes’ (formations in the earth’s crust believed to host diamond crystals) are said to have roles in forming and regurgitating the precious stones out into the crust and also impacts by space debris. 

However, he said that Nagaland has no known evidence of volcanic activity or meteorite impacts, “hence I don’t expect any diamonds,” adding, “These appears to be quartz crystals.”

Another geologist echoed a similar view, while stating that it can only be confirmed by testing chemical composition, crystalline structure and hardness. 

According to her, presently, there are no known scientific findings of diamonds in Nagaland and if so, would have found mention in the ‘Mineral Map of Nagaland.’

Going by the pictures and the existing evidence, she held that the stuff in Wanching appears to be quartzite.  

She added that diamonds cannot be cut or broken by rudimentary tools, while some of the crystals as seen in the pictures appeared to be cut and polished. In Mohs scale of mineral hardness, diamond is rated 10— the highest (hardest) rated known mineral on earth. Quartz is rated at 7. 

“Real diamonds need specific (special) tools for polishing/cutting. Even in India, only high end jewelry houses might have it,” she said. 

Like the Hindi phrase, “Loha lohe ko katta hai” (iron cuts iron), only diamond can cut diamond. Wonder how some of the purported diamonds got polished?

Geo & Mining department orders investigation

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Mon, Thavaseelan K, informed that the district administration has got in touch with the Geology and Mining Department, Nagaland and the department will be sending a team to check what it actually is. 

“It is doubtful that diamond can be found on the surface,” he commented, adding that the team of geologists will arrive at the site soon. 

With regard to the video circulation on YouTube, a person was tracked down in the afternoon after the intervention of the Wanching Village Students’ Union. 

The person who had posted the video on November 25 on YouTube has already taken down the video. They were reportedly on the lookout for “persons involved in spreading the videos and photos.

“Until proved otherwise; what is assumed diamond is crystallized quartz,” commented a villager. 

The village council, which has sat for meeting in the evening over the issue lamented the misuse of social media in spreading information without validation.