PESHAWAR: Located in Peshawar’s famous Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Dilip Kumar’s house is another sorry tale of negligence by authorities.
The house that once stood in all its glory in the narrow alleys of Mohallah Khudadad is now coming apart piece by piece.
Unoccupied for decades, the house has slowly decayed with its ceiling, doors and supporting walls collapsing. What now remains of the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa national heritage are the main gate and part of the front wall.
The very people, living nearby, coming to admire Kumar’s house, have now become its greatest enemies as the abandoned building is largely used as a dumping site by the local residents. The house was earlier used as storeroom by nearby shopkeepers.
Dilip Kumar, who was born in the same house in 1922, also wrote about the house in his autobiography Substance and Shadow with a photograph of the gate of the house also published in the book.
Kumar’s contributions to the Indian cinema were also recognised by the Government of Pakistan and he was awarded Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1998, the country’s highest civilian award.
There is now little left, and government officials say they have to reconstruct it from the very bases.
In 2014, the K-P directorate of archaeology issued a notification declaring Kumar’s house as national heritage under the Federal Antiquities Act of 1975, but its owner has challenged it in the court.
“It’s sad to see the house in ruins,” said Shakil Waheedullah Khan, who celebrates Kumar’s birthday every year. “No preservation efforts by any authority have ever been made to keep the house from deterioration, wear and tear.”
He said that its conditions were so shabby that it was difficult for the government to preserve it in its original form.
As his own initiative, Waheedullah has campaigned with the help of other elders of the city and demanded of the government to purchase it and declare it a national heritage.
Director Archaeology and Museums Dr Abdul Samad told The Express Tribune that the authorities would have to reconstruct the house and the new K-P Antiquities Act 2016 has made it easy for them.
The act provides that the house will be the property of its owner, but he will not be in any position to make changes or alteration to it.
Whenever the government wants, they can interfere and work for its restoration and renovation. And its owner, if he wants to sell the house, has to take an NOC from the K-P directorate of archaeology.
The government official added they were doing paperwork and Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar’s houses were to be restored under the city wall project.
“It would be good if it was restored, but the structure is in such a shabby condition that it cannot be preserved in its original form,” Samad who is also seasoned archaeologist said.
He added that the house has little or no archaeological value but has more cultural importance due to its association with the legendary actor.
“Therefore, it doesn’t need to be maintained in its actual structure. It will be restored and kept as symbol of Dillip Kumar’s birthplace,” he stated.