New Delhi: Days after a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA demanded that Jinnah House should be demolished, Pakistan said the iconic building once the residence of Mohammad Ali Jinnah belonged to it and should be handed over to its owner, The Express Tribune reported.
"The Jinnah House in Mumbai was the residence with ownership of the father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
"The government of India should respect the ownership rights of the government of Pakistan in this regard. We also expect that the Indian government will fulfil its obligation of protecting that property and its upkeep," Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria is quoted by The Express Tribune.
"On various occasions, the Indian government has promised to hand over the property to the government of Pakistan but have not fulfilled their commitment as yet," he added.
Nafees Zakaria's statement came after BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha demanded that Jinnah House should be demolished and a cultural centre be built in its place.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on the budgetary demands of the Public Works Department (PWD), the MLA said, "The Jinnah residence in south Mumbai was the place from where the conspiracy of partition was hatched."
"Jinnah House is a symbol of the partition. The structure should be demolished," he said.
According to the legislator, after the passage of the Enemy Property Act, Jinnah's heirs cannot stake claim to the Jinnah house. As per the Act, successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during partition will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.
Though it is for the first time someone has demanded demolition of the Jinnah House, demand to convert it into a cultural centre is not new. In 2015, Mumbai unit of the Congress had demanded setting up of a research centre and library dedicated to freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad at the historic Jinnah House, the residence of Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah before he left India after partition.
"Such a memorial would enable the nation, especially the present generation, to know about Azad's immense contribution in the field of education," a Mumbai Congress leader had said while raising the demand.
Jinnah House was built by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1936 at a then exorbitant price of 2 Lakh (200,000) rupees. This was after Jinnah returned to Mumbai from England.
The bungalow is located at 2, Bhausaheb Hirey Marg in the Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai close to the residence of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Jinnah lived in the house till Partition of India in 1947, after which he moved to Karachi in Pakistan.