India on Thursday strongly rejected Pakistan’s claim of ownership of the Jinnah House in Mumbai and said the property belongs to it.
“Pakistan has no locus standi as far as this property is concerned. It is a government of India’s property and we are in the process of renovating it,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
“Jinnah House is the Indian government’s property. Pakistan has absolutely no locus standi. It will be developed on the lines of Hyderabad House,” said Kumar.
When pressed, Kumar continued, “It is our property, if someone contests, we will have to fight for it. The ownership of the property is not in question.”
The MEA spokesperson comments came on a day Pakistan asserted that the Jinnah House belonged to it and any attempt by India to take the building under its control will not be accepted.
“We have a claim over it (Jinnah House) and we do not accept that anyone tries to take custody of it. They (Indians) have already accepted that it belongs to Pakistan. We have record of it. They (Indians) have accepted that it belong to Pakistan,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s claim over the property came days after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in a letter to Mumbai city BJP legislator Mangal Prabhat Lodha, said the government was in the process of renovating the Jinnah House.
Asked if Pakistan would consider handing over Kartarpur land to India in a swap deal, Faisal said: “Absolutely not. It (Kartarpur corridor) is a gesture for the Sikh minority community, made on their request, to provide a visa free corridor to facilitate their visit to a religious shrine.” He said the decision to open the Kartarpur corridor was taken at the state-to-state level and the Indian government was fully involved in it.
The Jinnah House on Malabar Hill in Mumbai was designed by architect Claude Batley in European style and Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah lived there in the late 1930s. Pakistan has been demanding that the property be handed over to it for housing its Mumbai consulate.