Mumbai: Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, is in the news again – for all the wrong reasons. In a sequel to the row over Jinnah’s portrait at Aligarh Muslim University, BJP legislator from Malabar Hill — Mangal Prabhat Lodha — has demanded that Jinnah’s bungalow in the city should be taken over by the state government and razed.
The Nationalist Congress Party leaders, in turn, have dared chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to raze the bungalow. They will felicitate him, if he does so! “We challenge the CM to take over the Jinnah House property and raze the bungalow. He should publicly declare the date and the method he would be taking recourse to.
We will garland and felicitate him,” said Nawab Malik, the vice president of State NCP, with obvious sarcasm. Malik added, “However, in case Fadnavis fails to take over the property and raze the bungalow, then he is answerable to the public and should tell them as to why he failed.”
The entire controversy swirling around Jinnah House is political, as the BJP leaders have been trying to portray the structure as ‘enemy property’ but have conveniently forgotten its surviving Indian linage. Nusli Wadia, the chairman of Wadia Group, is the grandson of Jinnah; his mother, the late Dina Wadia, was Jinnah’s only daughter.
The BJP government, which has dubbed the Jinnah House as ‘enemy property,’ seems to have forgotten that the Enemy Property Act came into force in 1968. This provides for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the custodian; an amendment was later passed in 2017. This bill specifically prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.
The Congress party has accused Lodha and the BJP of having a vested interest and trying to politicise a family issue. “This is definitely being turned into a political hot potato. Moreover, the legislator, who is a builder, has a vested interest in this property. The BJP government is in power and they are competent to address the property issue, if they so wish; why are their leaders then making selective leaks to the media? This shows they are trying to create a controversy,” said Sachin Sawant, the spokesperson of the Congress party.
Nusli Wadia, the grandson of Jinnah, has claimed ownership over this bungalow by contending there is no valid reason to justify the Centre’s notification declaring the heritage property as evacuee property under the Bombay Evacuee (Administration of Property) Act 1949.
Jinnah and his sister Fatima left India prior to 1947. Fatima had contended that her brother had bequeathed the bungalow to her and her husband, who were the trustees and executors of the inheritance. Jinnah’s daughter Dina Wadia had challenged it. During the final rounds of arguments in the Jinnah House ownership case, Nusli Wadia’s mother Dina had asserted that she was the natural heir and since Jinnah had left no will behind, the property on Malabar Hill automatically belonged to her.
After Dina’s death, Nusli Wadia, the chairman of Wadia group, sought to become a petitioner in the suit filed by his late mother Dina and has claimed the ownership of Jinnah House.