The ancestral home of Bollywood’s popular Kapoor family, located in the heart of Peshawar, is on the brink of being lost. The man who owns the mansion and the land it is built on is adamant on demolishing it to make way for a complex. However, the government seeks to turn it into a ‘museum’.
Ali Qadir, whose father had bought the building at an auction in 1968, asserts that it while the structure may have at one point hosted the Kapoors before they attained silver screen stardom, it is his family’s property now and should be treated as such.
“We bought it in an auction. This is our house, not the Kapoor family. We can do [with it] as we please,” Qadir told The Express Tribune.
He went on to detail how he wants to tear away the crumbling building, but the government will not let him do so.
“We want to demolish it, but the government is stopping us from doing so,” he said, adding, “Since it has been declared as a heritage site we cannot do anything with it.”
The Awami National Party (ANP) government had declared the house as a heritage site and hence cannot be demolished.
The Archeology and Museums director had registered an FIR with the Khan Raziq police station to stop the demolition of the historic building and to build a commercial plaza there.
A stay order was also obtained from the court.
In 2018, the government had suggested that the site will be converted into a museum. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had confirmed that he had heeded to a request from late actor Rishi Kapoor to preserve the house.
“There was a call from Rishi Kapoor. He requested that his family’s home in Peshawar should be turned into a museum or some sort of institution. We have accepted his request,” the minister had said.
However, no practical attempts have been made since to preserve the building which has seen several cracks develop due to earthquakes. The upper three floors of the mansion have been completely demolished. Also, the once beautiful balconies and windows of the multi-storey mansion have all but fallen apart.
“The government itself isn’t doing anything about it. The upper portion has already been destroyed and the lower portion can cave in at any moment,” Qadir said.
There were reports that the government could buy the property but a deal with the owners could not be reached.
“We have no problem with selling the house to the government. However since it has been declared a heritage site, we would want it to be sold as antiquity rather than at the market rate like any other real estate,” Qadir added.
The main reason for the lack of proper protection of historic and important buildings in the province, including Peshawar, is that they are not under the control of the relevant institutions. These institutions should be entrusted with the task of not only protecting them but also making possible the restoration of their original and historic status.
It seems that if there is no direct intervention, the Kapoor Haveli could very well meet the same fate as Dilip Kumar’s house located in Peshawar’s famous Qissa Khwani Bazaar, did.
Unoccupied for decades, the house has slowly decayed with its ceiling, doors and supporting walls collapsing. What now remains of the K-P national heritage are the main gate and part of the front wall.