The tussle for the Jinnah House, in the posh locality of Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, has escalated after Pakistan staked claim for it and said that the House, where the country’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah used to reside, belonged to it. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson on Thursday asserted that any attempt by India to take the House under its control “will not be accepted.”

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.

Mr Kumar said the government is considering putting the Jinnah House into use on the lines of the Hyderabad House here. The government uses the Hyderabad House for holding meetings and hosting banquets for foreign dignitaries.

The MEA spokesperson’s 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.

Recently, Swaraj wrote a letter to Mumbai BJP legislator Mangal Prabhat Lodha, stating that her ministry will refurbish the bungalow with facilities similar to the Hyderabad House in Delhi. On October 5, Lodha had sent a letter to Swaraj, urging that the Jinnah House be converted into a cultural centre, as per news agency PTI.

In her letter to Lodha, Swaraj stated, “Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has instructed us to renovate and refurbish Jinnah House to develop it on the pattern of facilities available in Hyderabad House in Delhi. Accordingly, approval of the PMO was sought for transfer of the property from ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) to our ministry. PMO has now accorded necessary approvals.”

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