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Dilip Kumar's Peshawar house in a shambles as legend turns 92

His Peshawar home is in a shambles and nothing practical has been done so far for its preservation.
Updated 10 Apr, 2015 11:13am
– Photo by author
– Photo by author

PESHAWAR: Though declared a national heritage on July 13, 2013 by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the house of legendary superstar Yousuf Khan aka Dilip Kumar, who turned 92 today (December 11), is in a shambles and nothing practical has so far been done for its preservation.

The five-marla three-storey house of the Peshawarites' pride is about to collapse as its two stories have already given way and the remaining are likely to cave in if timely attention is not paid.

– Photo by author
– Photo by author

After being declared as a protected monument on July 26, 2014 under the Antiquity Act of 1997, the government had planned to convert the house into a Museum. It had also planned to invite Dilip and his family to witness the occasion but the dilapidated condition of the house located in Mohallah Khudadad inside the Qissa Khawani Bazaar area speaks of the federal and provincial governments' apathy toward national and cultural heritage.

Read more: Pakistan's tribute to Dilip Kumar is 'huge honour': Saira Banu

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– Photo by author

The residents and the neighbours to the legendary star’s native Mohallah Khudadad are fearing the house might collapse any time and the national heritage would be gone forever. Peshawrities are calling to preserve the house and similar sites of cultural value as part of Pakistan's national heritage by converting them into mini museums.

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– Photo by author

Congratulating Dilip Kumar on his 92nd birthday, elderly Shah Hussain of Mohallah Khudadad says Peshawarites are proud of Yousuf Khan as he "accurately reflects the people of this city who love peace and art".

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– Photo by author

He said Qissa Khawani bazaar, or the storytellers' bazaar, where Dilip Kumar’s House is located, was the hub of cultural exchange between Central Asia and the Indo-Pak region, adding that it was a pity that successive governments over decades had failed to preserve its cultural diversity and also that of Peshawar.

“We want this house to be renovated and reconstructed on the same pattern as where Dilip spent almost seven years of his childhood,” Shah Hussain said, adding: “It’s criminal negligence on part of the cultural department as well as the governments that have failed to do anything practical to save it.”

Also read: Proposal to convert Dilip Kumar’s house into national heritage termed ‘unfeasible’

Another resident of the area, Abdul Wahid alias Parvez, said: “It may fall any time, two of its storeys have already collapsed. The house has mostly been abandoned after the government’s announcement to turn it into a museum.”

– Photo by author
– Photo by author

He added that no one has "cared to come to the house...A few people came last year to just do a photo-shoot in front of the house, claiming they were celebrating Dilip’s birthday, but they haven't been seen since".

“It’s a simple request, we don’t know what litigation is going on and what is the inheritance issue in relation to the ownership of the house, but the government is the authority and it should save the house from complete collapse which it is on the verge of.”

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– Photo by author

Social and human rights activist Raskhinda Naz is of the view that while the government has already declared it a cultural heritage, it's time to do more.

“It needs to be a cultural museum that can attract visitors as well as Dilip’s fans from India,” she said.

“I must say we should not limit the artists to one country. Dilip is a legendary artist and is the face of the subcontinent...it’s time to preserve the birthplaces of all our heroes,” Naz said, adding that "the reason we respect him is not because he hails from Peshawar but because he stands as a symbol for peace between the people of Pakistan and India."

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– Photo by author

However, there remain concerns that any dispute in relation to the ownership of the house must first be resolved. Arshad Haroon, who heads the Strengthening Participatory Organisation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is of the view that the government must resolve the property dispute between the owners and take custody of the house in order to preserve it.

“It should be converted into a national museum and the belongings of the legendary actor should also be put on display here to attract his fans,” he said.

“Only an announcement won't work, we want to see practical steps to preserve this national heritage."

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– Photo by author

Dilip Kumar is an asset of KP and hence the people of the province as well as the government should think in terms of what practical steps can be taken for the preservation of his birthplace.

Awami National Party MPA Jaffar Shah says his party is proud of Dilip Kumar and considers him a true representative of the Pakhtuns for the world, adding his house should be preserved and declared a national heritage.

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– Photo by author

Managing Director of Bacha Khan Education Trust Khadim Hussain says Dilip Kumar is one such asset who should be glorified as a national hero, adding that “along with Dilip, other heroes of the region must also be glorified and their past preserved in order to give a message to everyone that we care about our those who make us proud."

“Legends like Dilip are our true representatives, which shows this is a land of peace and love,” he adds.

– Photo by author
– Photo by author

The civil society in Peshawar celebrated Dilip Kumar's birthday with the same calls as last year and are optimistic that this time authorities may in fact pay a little more attention.