DEHRADUN: In a drive to find 'enemy properties' in Uttarakhand, the state government has identified 69 such structures in five districts while the hunt for 68 others is on. Uttarakhand has a total of 137 enemy properties.
"Instructions have been issued to all 13 district magistrates to identify enemy properties in their respective districts and clear them of encroachments if any," said Sushil Kumar, secretary of the state revenue department.
One of the famous enemy properties in Uttarakhand is Hotel Metropole, which played host to the Jinnahs on their honeymoon.
Pakistan’s founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah arrived in Nainital with his wife Rattanbai in April 1919. The couple also went for boating on Naini lake.
A case regarding the property has been dragging on for several decades in the courts even as the building and its premises are used for parking cars and as a dumping ground. A major part of the hotel was engulfed by fire last year in March.
The hotel which also hosted famous Hindi literary figure Rahul Sankrityayan began its fall from grace in the 1960s when the government of India decided to declare properties of people who left India after partition and independence in 1947 as 'enemy properties'.
Mohammad Amir Ahmed Khan, the then king of Mahmudabad to whom the property belonged, left India for Iraq and eventually embraced Pakistani citizenship in 1957.
In March this year, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy in a written reply in Lok Sabha said that the value of 'enemy properties', once owned by those who had migrated to Pakistan and China decades ago, is estimated to be about Rs one lakh crore.
The enemy properties belonged to those who in the wake of the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971 and Sino-Indian war of 1962 left the country and migrated to Pakistan and China.
Following this, the government of India, under The Defence of India Act, 1962, took over the properties and companies belonging to these people
These properties were vested by the central government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI).
The Centre has constituted two committees headed by senior officials for the disposal of immovable enemy properties vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India under The Enemy Property Act.
According to central government data provided in Parliament, a total of 9,280 enemy properties had been left behind by Pakistani nationals and 126 by Chinese nationals.