PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to buy the ancestral homes of Bollywood legends Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in the walled city of Peshawar and asked the deputy commissioner to determine their value.
After acquisition, both houses will be restored and converted into museums, said an official.
The government has long been eying the acquisition of the two houses located in Dhaki Dilgaran and Mohallah Khudadad near Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
Its bid to acquire Dilip Kumar’s house had fallen flat over a price dispute as the current owner took the government to the court a couple of years ago.
This time around, the directorate of archeology, instead of holding negotiations with the current owners, has decided to transfer the property ownership to itself through a Colonial era legislation, which allows government to acquire lands for ‘public use’.
Official says both houses to be restored, turned into museums
Director (archaeology) Dr Abdul Samad has written two letters to the deputy commissioner of Peshawar saying the provincial government intends to declare both houses the protected antiquity under the KP Antiquities Act, 2016, to protect them for posterity and promote cultural tourism.
“Land in question may pleased be transferred in case of state land and acquired under the Land Acquisition Act on compulsory grounds if it has private ownership, in favor of directorate of archaeology and museums,” a letter read.
It added that the draft notification under Section 4 [Land Acquisition Act] enclosed for necessary revenue data and provide the same after doing the needful for publication in government gazette.
Dr Samad told reporters that both houses located inside the walled city were part of the city’s cultural heritage.
He said sometimes ago, the current owners wanted to demolish both houses and construct plazas there but they’re stopped by his department under the KP Antiquities Act, 2016.
“Both houses were badly damaged during the dismantling exercise,” he said.
Dr Samad said the directorate had decided to purchase both properties under the Land Acquisition Act and asked the city’s deputy commissioner to ban their sale and communicate its price to it.
He said after acquisition, both houses would be restored and converted into museums.
The official said the acquisition of both proprieties was part of the Peshawar Revival Plan.
“Before 9/11, Peshawar was a hub of cultural activities. However, all those activities shifted to Lahore due to terrorism and deteriorating security situation,” he said.
Dr Samad said the government intended to revive the city under the Peshawar Revival Plan and the restoration of both houses was part of it.
In 2016, Raj Kapoor’s ancestral home was badly damaged by its current owner during demolition, which came to a halt due to the intervention of the archaeology directorate.
However, the exercise destroyed the upper portion of the house and badly damaged rest of it.
The Awami National Party government had tried to acquire Dilip Kumar’s ancestral house for preservation. However, the price dispute hampered the bid. It led to litigation during the last Pervez Khattak-led government.
In Oct 2015, the provincial government had informed the Peshawar High Court that it had dropped the plan of acquiring the house but declared it a protected antiquity stopping the owner from renovating it or making changes to it.
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2020