Peshawaris hail move to turn Dilip Kumar's home into museum

Written by Press Trust of India | Peshawar | Updated: Jul 25 2014, 19:25pm hrs
The residents of Peshawar have hailed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's move to turn legendary actor Dilip Kumar's ancestral house here into a museum though archaeological officials regard the proposal as "unfeasible".

"We greatly appreciate the announcement made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regarding declaration of Dilip Kumar's house in Peshawar as 'national heritage'," said Adil Zareef, Head Sarhad Conservation Network (SCN).

Adil said it is a matter of pride for the people of Pakistan that top Bollywood stars belonged to Peshawar before they migrated to India.

91-year-old Kumar's 130 square metre ancestral home is located in Peshawar's famous Qisa Khawani Bazaar area and is in a shabby condition.

The house has been declared as a national heritage by Prime Minister Sharif who has ordered authorities to acquire the dilapidated property and convert it into a museum, hoping the move would bring Pakistan and India closer.

The government is planning to invite Kumar and his family members after converting the house into a museum.

Kumar was born as Yusuf Khan in Peshawar. In the late 1930s, his family relocated to Mumbai. Apart from Kumar, the Kapoor family, Shah Rukh Khan and Anil Kapoor also have roots here.

"The decision of Prime Minister will portray a positive image of Peshawar apart from improving cultural contacts among the people of Pakistan and India," said Adil.

Kumar and other Bollywood top actors have fans across the world and giving recognition to such celebrities will send a positive message to the whole world, he added.

"It was a dream of people of Peshawar to give recognition to people who have roots in this ancient city and were known across the globe for their best performance in their respective fields," Adil said.

Adil also urged the provincial government to fully cooperate with federal government in execution of the plan.

Cultural Heritage Council secretarygeneral Shakeel Waheed Ullah, who campaigned to preserve Kumar's house, also appreciated the decision.

Shakeel said he had made a commitment of saving Kumar's house at all costs even if he would have to collect donation for payment to the current owner.

The Prime Minister has taken a very appropriate decision at a very appropriate time because the house is in dilapidated condition and needs repair and reconstruction at the earliest, Shakeel said.

However, the Department of Archaeology and Museums has turned down the government's request to convert the thespian's house into a national heritage museum, terming it "unfeasible".

Dawn News reported that in a letter to the ministry of information and heritage, the department said the house was located in congested areas and can be reached only through a narrow six feet wide and 33 feet long street. The location makes it difficult for the visitors to approach it.

"The house is totally unsuitable for conversion into a museum or library being very small and congested," it said.

The department also said the house of three to four rooms was not protected under the Antiquities Act of 1975.

It also objected to the idea on the basis of high cost, saying the owner had demanded Rs 80 million for the house in 2013, which might be higher now.

But people belonging to different walks of life including business, civil society, social workers, house wives, have all hailed the decision.

"It is matter to great honour that the house of the top legend of silver screen of sub-continent will be preserved and shown to the coming generation," said Haji Haleem Jan, President Anjuman Tajran Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Minister for Information Mushtaq Ghanj assured full cooperation to the federal government in converting the house into a museum.

He said under 18th amendment, the provincial government would take possession of the house from the owner.

However, he went on to say, so far no contact has been made with them by the federal government.