The historic ancestral home of the Hindi film industry’s showman, late Raj Kapoor, in Pakistan’s Peshawar city is facing demolition threat as the current owner of the house is adamant on building a commercial complex on the site, which is worth crores.
In 2018, the Pakistan government had decided to convert the ‘Kapoor haveli’ in Qissa Khwani Bazar in Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province into a museum, heeding to a request by Raj Kapoor’s son Rishi Kapoor. Rishi Kapoor died recently in Mumbai.
The ‘haveli’ has turned into a ghost building, residents of the area said. Due to its dilapidated condition, the building can collapse anytime, they said. The state of the building is deteriorating with each passing day due to ecological impacts, torrential rains, earthquakes and wind storms.
The ‘haveli’ is currently owned by Haji Muhammad Israr, a wealthy jeweller in the city. The provincial government wanted to buy it, keeping in view its historic importance and conserve it in its original shape for tourists. Mr. Israr, however, wants to demolish the building and construct a new commercial building at this prime location.
There are reports that the provincial government has failed to convert the building into a museum due to differences with its owner over its price. Mr. Israr has denied that he has had any issue with the government over the price of the property, estimated to be over Pakistani Rs. 5 crore. He says he simply wanted to demolish it and construct a huge commercial market at the site.
“It is a matter of concern that the ‘Kapoor haveli’ which we consider as the pride of our city is in dilapidated condition and is fast heading to the disappearance because of being ignored,” said Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, a resident of Dhaki Nalbandi where the palatial house is located. Shakeel Waheedullah, Secretary Cultural Heritage Council Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, expressed regret over the dilapidated condition of the house.
The ‘Kapoor haveli’ was built by Basheswarnath Kapoor, the grandfather of Hindi film industry pioneer Prithviraj Kapoor and father of Raj Kapoor.
The Kapoor family, originally from Peshawar, migrated to India after the Partition in 1947.