The provincial government in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has decided to purchase the ancestral houses of legendary Bollywood actors Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar to conserve the historic buildings which are in dilapidated condition and facing demolition threat.
The Department of Archaeology in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has decided to allocate sufficient funds for purchasing the two buildings, which have been declared as the national heritage and lie in the heart of Peshawar city, an official said. An official letter has been sent to the Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar to determine the cost of both the historic buildings, where the two greats of Indian cinema were born and raised in their early days before the partition, said Dr Abdus Samad Khan, the head of department of archaeology.
Raj Kapoor's ancestral home, known as Kapoor Haveli, is situated in the fabled Qissa Khwani Bazar. It was built between 1918 and 1922 by the legendary actor's grandfather Dewan Basheswarnath Kapoor. Raj Kapoor and his uncle Trilok Kapoor were born in the building. It has been declared national heritage by the provincial government.
Veteran actor Dilip Kumar's over 100-year-old ancestral house is also located in the same locality. The house is in shambles and was declared as national heritage in 2014 by the then Nawaz Sharif government.
Khan said the owners of the two buildings made many attempts in the past to demolish them for constructing commercial plazas in view of their prime location but all such moves were stopped as the archaeology department wanted to preserve them keeping in view their historic importance.
However, the owner of Kapoor Haveli, Ali Qadar, said that he did not want to demolish the building and made many contacts with the archaeology department officials to protect and preserve this historic structure which is a national pride.
The owner has demanded Rs 200 crore from the KP government to sell it out to the government.
In 2018, the Pakistan government decided to convert the Kapoor Haveli into a museum, heeding to a request by Rishi Kapoor who died this year in Mumbai. However, the announcement to this effect could not be materialised despite a lapse of around two years.
There are around 1,800 historic structures in Peshawar which are over 300 years old.