The 2.5 acre mansion in Mumbai built by Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah should be demolished, one of the city’s top builders has told the government.
Mangal Prabhat Lodha is the promoter of a large real estate developer in the financial capital. He said in the legislature that Jinnah House in South Mumbai should be demolished and replaced with a cultural centre. Jinnah House is built on 2.5 acres of land estimated to be worth about $400 million.
“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,” he said, arguing that lakhs are wasted in maintaining the European-style seafront bungalow which was constructed in the late 1930s.
Jinnah House, with its imposing columns, Italian marble and walnut panelling, was home for decades to Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner, but mostly fell into disuse after being vacated in 1982.
The historic house was the venue for watershed talks on the partition between Jinnah and Indian leaders. Pakistan has repeatedly requested New Delhi either to sell or lease the house to its government for use as a consular office. India has neither refused nor accepted that request. The house now remains locked and is in an advanced state of decay. In 2007, Dina Wadia, Mr Jinnah’s daughter who was then 88 and lived in New York, approached the high court in Mumbai in a bid to gain ownership of the property. Her son, Nusli, lives in Mumbai and heads a large textile and real estate business.
After partition, India appropriated immovable and movable property left behind by those who chose to go to Pakistan, designating such assets as evacuee property. But as a goodwill gesture, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, ensured neither Mr Jinnah nor his daughter were declared evacuees. Nor was Jinnah House registered as an evacuee property.
Last week, parliament cleared the updated Enemy Property Act, which states that successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during partition have no claim to the properties left behind by their families in India.