ISLAMABAD, April 06 (NA): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday strongly condemned Indian politicians for demanding to demolish Jinnah House. “Indian parliamentarians’ calls to demolish Jinnah House unfortunate and disturbing. History cannot be wished [washed] away by demolishing buildings,” he tweeted today. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha last week had demanded that the Jinnah House building be demolished and a cultural centre built in its place. Media reports said Lodha, who is leading the campaign to raze down Jinnah’s Mumbai bungalow, is US President Donald Trump’s Indian business partner.
The move can further affect relationship between the two neighbours and create a fresh diplomatic row. Lodha, a BJP MLA in Maharashtra, is also the founder of the Lodha group that collaborates for the Trump Tower Mumbai project. Speaking in Maharashtra’s Legislative Assembly last week, he said “Jinnah residence in south Mumbai was the place from where the conspiracy of partition was hatched. Jinnah House is a symbol of partition, and should be demolished.” The grand house built by Jinnah is located in Malabar Hill area in south Mumbai. It is built on 2.5 acres of land and estimated to be worth about USD 400 million. It was home for decades to Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner, but mostly fell into disuse after vacated in 1982. Pakistan has constantly demanded that India either sell or lease the house to its government for use as a consular office. Pakistan has expressed concern over the safety of Jinnah House and said India should show respect towards it. Pakistan foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria said that the property belonged to Jinnah, and that ownership rights must be respected.