NEW DELHI: Clearing the air on Jinnah House, Union Home Minister for State Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Tuesday said the property in Mumbai belongs to the country and is not an “enemy property”.
Originally named as South Court, the sea-facing bungalow was built by Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1936 after he returned from England. To a question raised by Karnal MP Ashwani Kumar in the Lok Sabha, Ahir said there was no question about selling off the property.
The Malabar Hills property doesn’t fall under the purview of the Enemy Property Act, he said.
“Jinnah House is a Government of India property and the question of disposing the property does not arise.”The Enemy Property Act refers to the regulation of properties belonging to, held or managed on behalf of those who belong to ‘enemy’ nations (a country that has committed an act of aggression against India or its citizens).
Ahir said the property comes under the category of ‘Evacuee Property’ under the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950.
Last year, some BJP MLAs had demanded that the Malabar Hill bungalow where Jinnah once resided be demolished as it was a ‘symbol of Partition.’ Pakistan had also staked claim on the posh property and asked India to respect its ownership rights and return the property.
According to popular lore, it was at the Jinnah House where Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah held what is often termed as ‘watershed talks on the partition of India’ in September, 1944.