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India: The ’enemy property’

Friday 31 March 2017, by siawi3


In BJP’s India, a call to demolish Jinnah’s house in Mumbai

Published Mar 27, 2017 03:34pm

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, on Monday demanded that a residence owned by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Mumbai be demolished and that a cultural centre be built in its place, Times of India reported.

Lodha, who is a property magnate in Mumbai, was speaking at the Legislative Assembly on budgetary demands when he 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.

Lodha, who is a member of India’s legislative assembly (MLA), claimed that the Public Works Department has to pay hundreds and thousands of Indian rupees just for the iconic building’s upkeep and maintenance.

“The structure should be demolished and a cultural centre highlighting Maharashtra’s culture and pride should be built. The cultural centre should also exhibit the glorious history of India,” Lodha said.

The demand was made by the BJP member in the wake of the Indian Parliament passing the controversial amendments to the Enemy Property Act 1968 earlier this month.

Enemy Property

As per the Enemy Property Act, successors of those who migrated to Pakistan from India or China during the partition will have no claim over the properties left in India. However, Jinnah’s house in Mumbai, formally named South Court, is categorised as an “evacuee property” and not an “enemy property”.

According to the Evacuee Property Act, 1950, an evacuee is a person who left India by March 1, 1947 on account of setting up of the dominions of Pakistan and India or due to civil disturbances or fear of such disturbances.

Dina Wadia, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s only child, has been embroiled in litigation regarding the ownership of the house for the past many years. In 2010, the then 90-year old offspring of Pakistan’s founding father moved the Indian High Court laying claim to the multi-million dollar mansion as his “only daughter and sole heir”.

Initially, Wadia fought the case against the Indian government, but a petition by a third party was filed by Jinnah’s grand-nephew Mohammed Ebrahim and his son, claiming their stake to the property by citing Islamic Law which states that they were the legal heirs of Fatimah Jinnah and therefore entitled to the property.

The case remains to be solved and South Court continues to remain under the Indian government’s ownership.



India’s new ’enemy property’ law unfairly targets Muslims: analysts


Updated Mar 14, 2017 09:31am

A controversial bill presented in the Indian parliament seeking to amend a five-decade-old law to deny Indian families of those who moved to China and Pakistan the right to reclaim “enemy properties” seized by the state unfairly targets Muslims, analysts say.

The Enemy Property Act of 1968, enacted after the conflict three years earlier, gave the Indian government the right to seize assets of Indian nationals who had moved to Pakistan or China following wars with the two countries.

Pakistan enacted a similar law at the time and seized properties of those who left for India.

The amended law, which would apply retrospectively, extends the definition of “enemy” to include legal heirs of declared enemies, even when the heir is an Indian citizen, or of a country not deemed to be an enemy.

“When the families are citizens of the country, how can the government consider them to be enemies and take away their right of succession?” asked Husain Dalwai, a member of India’s upper house of parliament.

“It is against the constitution and it targets Muslims unfairly,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Indian government has said the amendments are in the “larger public interest” and will plug “loopholes to ensure that enemy properties worth thousands of crores (millions) of rupees do not revert to the enemy or enemy firm”.

The Supreme Court of India ruled in 2005 that legal heirs who are Indian citizens can reclaim so-called enemy property, following decades of petitioning by the family of the erstwhile Raja of Mahmudabad, who left India after partition in 1947.

But the amendment ─ also barring civil courts from hearing disputes related to enemy property ─ was passed late on Friday by the upper house, despite a walkout by opposition members.

India’s large Muslim minority, which makes up 13 per cent of the population, lags the national average on land ownership, and faces bias when buying or renting properties.

The number of properties with the Custodian of Enemy Property has risen to about 16,000 from 2,100 a few years ago ─ nearly all taken from Muslim families ─ and are estimated at more than 1 trillion Indian Rupees ($15 billion).

“The idea of the bill seems to be to deprive Muslims of their right to ancestral property that the state seized,” said Anand Grover, a rights lawyer who argued the case before the Supreme Court.

“It’s anyone’s guess what will happen now,” he said.