Four get bail in Raj Kapoor Haveli demolition case

PESHAWAR: A local court on Monday granted bail to four people arrested under the Antiquity Law over the partial demolition of the birthplace of Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor.After hearing the arguments of both the sides, judicial magistrate Jamil Khan pronounced that the suspects were entitled to the concession of bail as the offence mentioned in the law was bailable.The suspects, including Haider Qadir, Hassan Qadir, Salab Khan and Israr, were taken into custody a day ago after the case of the Raj Kapoor Haveli demolition was registered on the complaint of archeology department director Dr Abdus Samad under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquity Act 1997.The case was registered under different sections of the Act including sections 2 and 20.Under Section 20 of the law, no person shall destroy, break, damage, alter, deface or mutilate or scribble, write or engrave any inscription or sign on, any antiquity.Furthermore, the law defines antiquity as any ancient product of human activity, movable or immovable, illustrative of art, architecture, craft, custom, literature, etc. or of any aspect of civilization or culture. Antiquity also includes any ancient object or site of historical, ethnographical, anthropological, military or scientific interest;Similarly, ancient means belonging or relating to any period prior to the year 1922.

Lawyer for the suspects said his clients got nothing to do with the demolition of Raj Kapoor Haveli situated in Dhaki Munawar Shah near Sarafa Bazaar.He added that the building was in dilapidated condition and that following the devastating earthquake of Oct 26, 2015, its condition deteriorated.The lawyer said the building could crumble down anytime and could result in human loss.He said the inhabitants of the area were feeling threatened because of the condition of the building and they were constantly asking the owner to pull it down.The lawyer said his clients were merely labourers and were not involved in the decision of demolition of the haveli.He said the building was never declared a protected antiquity and that the offences under the Antiquity Act were bailable.

The lawyer said the officials of the archeology department were in deep slumber before they suddenly started claiming that it was protected antiquity.The government prosecutor contended that the building was of historical and cultural significance and it feel under the definition of antiquity. He added that the petitioners had committed a cognizable offence by trying to demolish the haveli.The present owner of the haveli demolished top two storeys of the building three days ago. However, after the officials of the archeology department heard about it, they intervened and stopped the demolition of the entire structure on Saturday.A slab fixed inside the haveli states that it was constructed in 1918 by Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor, father of Prithviraj Kapoor and grandfather of Raj Kapoor, who was reportedly born in the Haveli on Dec 14, 1924. After partition in 1947, the remaining members of the family left the house in Peshawar. Later, the house was purchased by the present owner Haji Israr Khan, who is a jeweler by profession.


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