Pakistan objected to demolition of Jinnah House in Mumbai as suggested by one of the BJP real estate developers terming it a symbol of partition of India in 1947.
Jinnah House built on 2.5 acres is worth about $400 million (about Rs.2,600 crore) but was vacant since 1982 after it was vacated by the Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner.
Built with Italian marble and walnut panelling, Pakistan has repeatedly asked India to sell or lease the house for use as a consular office.
But BJP MLA Lodha said, “The Jinnah residence in south Mumbai was the place from where the conspiracy of partition was hatched. Jinnah House is a symbol of the partition. The structure should be demolished.”
Mr Jinnah’s daughter Dina Wadia and her son Nusli Wadia, owner of Bombay Dyeing, were engaged in prolonged ownership battle over the house with the government of India. The building was taken over by the government after Jinnah left the house labelling it “evacuee property” in 1949.
Under the Enemy Property Act of 1968, India could seize assets of Indian nationals who had moved to Pakistan or China. Even Pakistan has similar law in vogue. The latest Enemy Property Act passed in March 2017 denied the right to reclaim such properties.
Controversy over Jinnah House:
Built by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1936 at No. 2, Bhausaheb Hirey Marg in the Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai, it is just placed in opposite to the residence of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Jinnah lived there until the Partition of India in 1947.
Designed by architect Claude Batley in the European-style architecture, the sea-side bungalow was constructed with Jinnah personally supervising the construction in a sprawling 2.5 acres of land. It was in this house that in September 1944 Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi discussed before the partition. On 15 August 1946, talks were held here between Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru again.
When India government took over the building, his daughter Dina Wadia, who married an Indian and settled in India after the partition, has been involved in a prolonged legal battle claiming that Hindu law would apply to Jinnah as he was a Khoja Shia Muslim.
Jinnah was extremely attached to his house and as a personal favour Nehru did not term it enemy property and wanted to give it to Jinnah but his cabinet colleagues opposed it. Jinnah requested Nehru to allot the building to preferably a European family that can appreciate its beauty but he died in September 1948 before the deal could be finalised.
The premises housed the British High Commission on rent from 1948 to 1983 and in 2003, part of it was given to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for cultural activities. In March 2005, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, E. Ahemad said that it would remain a cultural centre.