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BAHAWALPUR: Sadiqgarh palace a shadow of its past

February 17, 2004


BAHAWALPUR, Feb 16: The legal heirs of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi were appalled to see valuables missing from the Sadiqgarh palace, which was desealed amid tight security on Monday after 20 years.

The palace has been desealed on the demand of the legal heirs and descendants of the late Nawab. The implementation committee, headed by Justice Qadeeruddin Ahmad Chaudhary (retired), had directed desealing of the historical palace and auction of the antiques on Feb 10 last.

His orders were carried out by the sub-committee, chaired by EDO (revenue) Abdul Ghafoor Bhatti. The legal heirs and descendants present on the occasion included Nawab's two sons - Prince Saeedul Rashid Abbasi, a former federal minister, and Prince Aminul Rashid Abbasi - and grandsons Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi, a former MNA, and Falahuddin Abbasi.

Ahmedpur East Deputy District Officer (revenue) Ghazi Amanullah Khan, along with his revenue staff, were there with all arrangements. Heavy police contingent guarded the place and the palace's main gate to prevent the entry of any outsider.

The Bahawalpur EDO (revenue) desealed the main gate in the corridor leading to the Darbar Hall and other adjacent rooms, which were dark and deserted. Entrance was made possible through torches.

The hall and adjacent rooms were stinking and littered with pieces of glass, photo frames, chandeliers. The showroom, which was once a symbol of magnificence, had broken glass and all its manuscripts were missing.

Some of the heirs, including Prince Aminul Rashid Abbasi and Dr Rahim Yar Abbasi, who is a deputy registrar at the Islamia University, were shocked to see it all. However, after some time they came out of the palace and protested against their loss.

During their hour-long stay inside the palace, they kept grumbling against the government, which is the custodian of the palace. Sahibzada Omar Daud Abbasi, one of the Nawab's descendants, told Dawn that one of the three chandeliers (which was broken) at the hall was very expensive.

He said this was one of three most costly chandeliers in the world. The other two were found in Iran and Italy.

The crystal articles and chairs were also broken and glass smashed when the visitors stepped it while entering the palace. Nothing worthwhile, save a large number of books mostly related to the World War I and others covered with dust at the second storey of the palace, attracted the people.

Seeing the condition of the palace and mysterious removal of valuables, which the Nawab's heirs claimed were in quantity at the time of its sealing in 1984, Prince Aminul Rashid Abbasi told this correspondent that it showed negligence of the custodian.

Once looked like a heavenly place where kings, generals and heads of states used to be guests, he said, the palace was in a pathetic state. According to another claimant, gems, crystals and jewellery had once adorned the palace, but all had disappeared today. However, there were some cars in the motorkhana.

Earlier, Prince Saeed had demanded the sub-committee chairman to first inspect the museum and library inside the palace. He said he wanted to inform the committee that the museum and library's assets had been taken away stealthily.

At this Nawab Salahuddin told the chairman that during the regime of the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1974, all the objects of the museum and library had been shifted to the palace. However, on the insistence of Prince Saeed, the chairman and others present there inspected the museum and library, which were vacant.