|Rezaul H Laskar,
Islamabad, Jul 3 - Pakistani authorities have put on hold their plans to acquire Bollywood icon Dilip Kumar's ancestral home in Peshawar and preserve it as a national heritage site after several persons laid claim to the property.
The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province still intends to acquire the house but has adopted a "wait and watch" policy after several persons claimed the property on learning that authorities were willing to pay a sizeable amount for it, a provincial government official said today.
"The plan has not been abandoned but we are weighing our options as a lot of people are claiming they own the house simply in the hope of getting a portion of the money that will be paid by the government," the official, who did not want to be named, told PTI over the phone from Peshawar.
Provincial Culture Director Pervez Khan was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that authorities had decided not to go ahead with buying the house after more than one person laid claim on the ownership of the property.
"Now there are legal complications and till the time the rightful owner is not known, the directorate would not go ahead with the plan," he said.
Ikramullah Khan, the current owner of the property who uses the rundown building to store goods he sells at a nearby hosiery store, told PTI that he was still holding discussions with the government though nothing had been finalised. "I am still talking to the government. I have documents to prove I bought the property," Khan said.
Once the provincial government said it would pay Rs 30 million for Dilip Kumar's home, several persons emerged to claim ownership of the property. Ikramullah Khan claimed he had bought the house six years ago for Rs 5.1 million and that he had legal documents for the sale.
The provincial culture directorate even contacted Dilip Kumar's relatives in Peshawar and India and one of them, possessing an authority letter, informed authorities that he was not aware of any sale. It is suspected that an old servant of the family had sold the house without informing anyone, the Dawn reported.
In December last year, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain announced plans to acquire the ancestral homes of Bollywood legends Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor in Peshawar so that they could be preserved as national heritage sites. At a later stage, officials included a proposal to also acquire the ancestral home of Shah Rukh Khan.
The culture directorate had planned to bring Dilip Kumar's personal belongings from India and put them on display at the house. It also planned to set up of a library of his films in the house located at Mohalla Khudadad near the historic Qissa Khwani Bazar.
Culture Director Pervez Khan said the chances of getting possession of the ancestral homes of Shah Rukh Khan and Raj Kapoor too had dwindled. "The extended family of Shah Rukh Khan is living in his ancestral house whereas a local family owning Raj Kapoor's house is not ready to sell it to the government," Khan said.
Dilip Kumar was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar on December 11, 1922. The son of prosperous fruit merchant Lala Ghulam Sarwar, the future silver screen icon spent several years of his childhood in the home near Qissa Khwani Bazar or the "Market of Storytellers," where travellers and traders from across Central Asia gathered to swap tales. PTI