DELHI – Indian ruling party, BJP’s MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha has demanded the demolition of Jinnah House, the erstwhile residence of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and has sought the construction of a cultural centre in its place.
According to The Indian Express, speaking in the Legislative Assembly: the MLA said, “It is a symbol of partition and it needs to be demolished.”
Lodha presented his demand after the Indian Parliament passed the Enemy Property Act under which Jinnah House became the property of the Indian government.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lodha — who owns a construction conglomerate — said he had been seeking the takeover of the property for the last decade.
The historic European-style building was designed by architect Claude Batley, construction for which commenced in 1936. Located in Malabar Hill, it was Jinnah’s residence before the formation of Pakistan.
The property is currently under the possession of the Ministry of External Affairs and there has been a long-standing proposal to set up a South Asian Centre for Arts and Culture within the premises.
Both the Pakistan Government and Jinnah’s legal heirs have put up claims on the said property.
However, Lodha said, due to the passing of the Enemy Property Act, his heirs cannot claim their right to own the said property.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, was approved by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha on March 14, incorporating the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha last week.
As per the Act, successors of those who had migrated to Pakistan and China during partition will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.