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Row over bid to acquire Dilip Kumar home

Islamabad: A move by Pakistani authorities to acquire iconic Indian actor Dilip Kumar`s ancestral home in Peshawar for a sizeable sum of money has triggered a row involving several persons who have laid claim to the property.

The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province recently announced plans to acquire the house in Mohallah Khudadad area of the historical Qissa Khawni Bazar so that it can be preserved as a national heritage site.

Ikramullah, who currently occupies the house, told a news conference in Peshawar on Monday that he alone has the rights to the property. He rejected claims of ownership by several persons, saying they were looking for an easy way of getting cheap publicity. He further said Dilip Kumar`s father Ghulam Sarwar bought the house when its previous owner, Gul Jee, put it up for sale in 1943. Sarwar subsequently sold the house to Yaqoob Qureshi in 1944.

Qureshi died in 1981 and his son Muhammad Badshah put up the house for sale in 2005. At that time, Haji Lal Muhammad, a partner of Ikramullah, purchased the property for Rs 5.5 million.

Ikramullah said after Badshah received the money, he delayed the registration of the house in Haji Lal`s name. He said he then approached a civil court to get possession and the certificate of ownership of the house. He argued that Dilip Kumar or his relatives had no right to the property because Sarwar had sold it over six decades ago.

He distributed copies of documents related the property, including transfer deeds and death certificates, and said anyone claiming to be the owner of the house should approach the courts to establish the facts.

He said the previous owners had been paid for the property and had no right now to make any claim about its ownership. "We have discussed the matter with the provincial government and a local jirga but some vested elements are issuing statements in the media about the ownership of the historic house," he said.

He said he would file a suit for damages against fake claimants to the property. Ikramullah said that following the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government`s offer of Rs 30 million to purchase the house and declare it a national heritage, one Fawad Ishaq had claimed ownership of the property.

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