It is official; Dilip Kumar’s house is now a protected site under the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Antiquities Act of 1997 and Land Acquisition Act of 1895.
Directorate of Archaeology and Museum Director Dr Abdul Samad told The Express Tribune, “The notification has been issued under Section 11 of the K-P Antiquities Act 1997 and Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act of 1895 it has been declared a protected heritage site.”
The notification was issued immediately after the secretary of tourism and archaeology, Azam Khan, took charge.
Samad said their next step will be to write to the provincial revenue department to decide the cost at which the archaeology department will buy the property located in Mohallah Khudad.
Mohallah Khudad is a congested area in Qissa Khwani where Yousaf Khan, better known as Dilip Kumar, was born in 1922. The house is currently being used as a warehouse and is in a dilapidated condition.
Once the antiquities act is applied, Kumar’s house will become a protected heritage site and no authority, not even the owner of the house, will be able to sell or mortgage the property or make any alterations.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had issued directives earlier in July to declare the legendary Indian actor’s house a national heritage site and directed authorities to purchase the property. This was much appreciated by the provincial government as it assumed the money would be provided by the Centre. However, the Federal Archaeology and Museum department refused to acquire Kumar’s house or convert it into a museum as after the 18th Amendment, archaeology and its concerns have been devolved to the provinces.
Samad told The Express Tribune it became top priority to gain control of the house after he took charge of the directorate. “The house is an extremely dilapidated condition,” he said. “We cannot waste any time, we have to start work on its preservation, to restore it to its original condition.” Once restoration is complete, the house will be made into a museum, where the actor’s life will be charted for the public, he added.
The previous government tried to purchase the house, but despite numerous efforts, it failed to secure ownership.
Though it was a matter for the archaeology department, it fell into the hands of the culture department which had neither power nor a relevant act under which steps could be taken to buy or protect Kumar’s house. This further delayed the matter, said Samad.
He added, “The matter then landed back in the hands of the businessman who is now demanding Rs80 million for the property.”
On July 17, Haji Lal Muhammad filed a petition in court, claiming he lawfully owns the five-marla house situated in Mohallah Khudad, purchased from Muhammad Badshah and his wife Saeeda Khatoon for Rs515,000 on January 5, 2008. The provincial chief secretary, culture and information secretary, revenue and estate district officer, and director culture were made respondents.
Shakil Wahidullah of the Cultural Heritage Council (CHC), who recently visited India, told The Express Tribune, “This is a positive step taken by the provincial government but the delay led to the house further falling apart.”
The CHC has already advised the K-P government to set up the museum, where the actor’s personal artefacts will be put on display. “We have met film producers from Dilip sahab’s heyday and have asked them to provide us costumes used by the actor in his movies for the (future) museum,” said Wahidullah. An archive of his movies should also be part of this endeavour, he added. “His wife Saira Banu has also been asked to provide items which can be put on display at the house for people to see.”
Wahidullah said they received positive responses from all of the people they approached.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.