Islamabad [Pakistan], Mar. 31 (ANI): Expressing concerns over the safety of Jinnah House, the erstwhile residence of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Mumbai, Pakistan has asked India to protect the property.
This came after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha demanded the demolition of the house.
"Jinnah House in Mumbai was the residence with ownership of the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its desire to take possession of the property. The Government of India should respect the ownership rights of the Government of Pakistan in this regard," Pakistan's Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said during a press conference.
"We also expect that Indian Government will fulfill its obligation of protecting that property and its upkeep," he added.
Lodha has sought the construction of a cultural centre in place of Jinnah House.
He had said that the Jinnah House is a symbol of partition and it needs to be demolished.
Zakaria said Pakistan has already taken this issue with India authorities and it is an ongoing matter.
"The property belongs to the Founder of Pakistan and should be given to Pakistan," he said.
The BJP MLA said this after the Parliament passed the Enemy Property Act, Jinnah House became the property of the Indian government.
"I am struggling for this for the last 15 years. I have raised this issue twice in the Vidhan Sabha. Jinnah House is an enemy property. The Government of India should hand it over to the Maharashtra Government. The Maharashtra Government should establish a culture centre there which projects Maharashtra's glory," Lodha told ANI.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, was passed by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha on March 14, incorporating the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha.
As per the Act, successors of those who had migrated to Pakistan and China during partition will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.
The historic European-style building was designed by architect Claude Batley, construction for which commenced in 1936. Located in Malabar Hill, it was Jinnah's residence before the formation of Pakistan.
The property is currently under the possession of Indian External Affairs Ministry and there has been a long-standing proposal to set up a South Asian Centre for Arts and Culture within the premises. (ANI)