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Saturday June 22, 2024

Ancient tree felling in Qissa Khwani triggers concerns

The tree was present in the Shah Wali Qataal neighbourhood, at the back of the historic Qissa Khwani Bazaar and was stated to be 500 years old.

By Riffatullah
June 07, 2024
This representational image shows an Ancient tree. — Unsplash/File
This representational image shows an Ancient tree. — Unsplash/File

PESHAWAR: Heritage lovers have expressed concerns as at a time when World Environment Day was being marked on June 5, one of the oldest living cities of South Asia, Peshawar, was deprived of an ancient tree in the heart of the city which was felled and removed from the site at night.

The tree was present in the Shah Wali Qataal neighbourhood, at the back of the historic Qissa Khwani Bazaar and was stated to be 500 years old. The locality has the ancestral home of the Bollywood Superstar Shah Rukh Khan. His relatives still live there.

The residents said the ancient tree which fell victim to felling was 15 feet high and its trunk diameter was five feet. They said it was felled at night in the presence of the government officials.

The felled tree pieces were shifted from the site during the night to avoid a backlash from the residents as they had opposed its cutting in the past.The residents recalled that an effort was made six months back to feel the same tree but the action was halted after the matter was highlighted by the electronic and print media.

They said there was a shop adjacent to the tree which was owned by a government department. The officials wanted to generate more revenue by expanding the area of the shop. Hence, the tree was felled reportedly after obtaining the non-objection certificate from the relevant department but they preferred monetary consideration to city heritage and environment.

It is worth mentioning there that Taj Muhammad, the late father of Indian film star Shah Rukh Khan, was born in the house situated in the Shah Wali Qataal neighbourhood.

He used to live here along with his elder brother, Ghulam Muhammad, popularly known as Gama, before migrating to Kolkata city of India ahead of Independence. The uncle of Shah Rukh Khan -Ghulam Muhammad - was a political worker and was associated with Ghareeb Awam Party. He had a shop as well in the locality.

Shah Rukh Khan visited his ancestral home twice, the last time in the early 1980s when he was not in showbiz. He spent time in the family home during visits to the native town of his father.

The cultural and environmental experts expressed concern over the issue. They said the city had several ancient trees that were part of the tangible heritage of Peshawar and needed to be protected.

They said such ancient trees were present in various parts of the walled city such as the banyan tree near Rampura Gate in the close vicinity of the Government Shaheed Usama Zafar Centennial Model Higher Secondary School (formerly National High School, set up on June 5, 1895), the ones in Bajaz Larha near Peepal Mandi, Sakhi Murad Shah shrine inside Kohati Gate and at the City Railways Station in Faiqirabad which called for protection.