Updated: December 21, 2018 8:44:08 am
Days after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Jinnah House in Mumbai would be transferred to her ministry — for being developed as a venue for official banquets and meetings with top dignitaries, on the lines of Hyderabad House in the capital — India and Pakistan on Thursday engaged in a verbal duel over ownership of the property.
While New Delhi said there was “no doubt” that the building belongs to India, Pakistan also claimed ownership and said any attempt by India to take the building would not be accepted.
The sea-facing bungalow on Malabar Hill in Mumbai was designed by architect Claude Batley in European style, and Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, lived there in the late 1930s. Pakistan had earlier demanded that the property should be handed over to it for housing its Mumbai consulate.
Responding to a question at the weekly briefing on Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “Jinnah House is the Indian government’s property. Pakistan has absolutely no locus standi. It will be developed on the lines of Hyderabad House.”
When pressed, Kumar said, “It is our property, if someone contests, we will have to fight for it. The ownership of the property is not in question.”
In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said, “We have a claim over it (Jinnah House) and we do not accept that anyone tries to take custody of it. They (Indians) have already accepted that it belongs to Pakistan. We have record of it.”
Asked if Pakistan would consider handing over Kartarpur land to India in a swap deal, Faisal said: “Absolutely not. It (Kartarpur corridor) is a gesture for the Sikh minority community, made on their request, to provide a visa free corridor to facilitate their visit to a religious shrine.” He said the decision to open the Kartarpur corridor was taken at the state-to-state level and the Indian government was fully involved in it.
Earlier, in a letter to BJP MLA from Malabar Hill in South Mumbai, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Swaraj had said that the Prime Minister’s Office had instructed that Jinnah House should be renovated and refurbished, and developed on the pattern of facilities available at Hyderabad House in Delhi. “Accordingly, approval of the PMO was sought for transfer of the property from ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) to our ministry. PMO has now accorded necessary approvals,” Swaraj said in her letter dated December 5. “We are in the process of transferring the ownership in our name.”
In August 2007, Jinnah’s daughter, Dina Wadia, had approached the Bombay High Court, claiming that as his sole legal heir, she should be granted possession of the house. After her death, her son Nusli Wadia is carrying on the litigation.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.