Friday December 01, 2023

ETPB official, owner booked for razing archaeological building in Peshawar

October 14, 2018

PESHAWAR: The police on Saturday booked an official of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and owner Shahab for demolishing an archaeological building inside the walled city.

The Khan Raziq Police Station has registered the case against Deputy Administrator ETPB Peshawar Asif Khan for granting permission to demolish the 150-year old building near Asamai Gate in Ander Sheher locality and owner Shahab Khan on the complaint of Directorate of Archaeology and Museums.

The 19th century structure, constructed between the years 1830-1860, was a fine architectural monument. The building featured in a Unesco publication titled “Doors of Peshawar”, which was produced by known ethnologist Samar Minallah.

The Board had granted permission to construct a commercial plaza at the site. The permission letter said: “The chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board, Lahore is pleased to accord approval on the request of tenants Inayatullah, Muhammad Ijaz, Altaf Hussain and Khalida Bano of the subject of Evacuee Trust properties situated at Koocha Sonia, Ander Sheher in Peshawar, measuring eight marlas, for construction of a commercial building on the specific terms and conditions as contained in the clause 18-B of Scheme for the Management and Disposal of Evacuee Trust Properties 1977 in the best interest of the board.”

After securing permission from the Board, the owner demolished the historical building, raising concern among historians, culture lovers and all those citizens who have a strong sense of belonging to Peshawar and the tangible heritage sited in this one of the oldest living cities of South Asia. Questions are being raised as to why the Town Municipal Administration Peshawar approved a plan when it is known that demolishing a heritage building is prohibited under the KP Antiquity Act 2016.

The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums had filed the complaint for registering the case against Deputy Director of the Board Asif Khan and the present owner Shahab Khan under the KP Antiquity Act.

The Act says that the owners are bound to report any damage or destruction or stolen or missing protected antiquity to the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums in seven days.

It says that after the inquiry, if the Directorate found out that the antiquity had been wilfully damaged or destroyed by the owner or any other person, the directorate shall initiate action against the responsible person(s) by lodging a case against him. Under the Act, the crime is punishable to imprisonment up to five years and a fine of up to Rs2 million. It is the second incident of its kind in less than two weeks.

Earlier, a Sikh-era three-storey house lying on the Heritage Trail was demolished by the owner Ali Raza Khan in Mohallah Mughalaan in Bazaar-e-Kalan near the Gor Khatri Archaeological Complex.

The Town-1 administration had issued a no-objection certificate to the owner for demolishing the building.

Though the directorate through a letter had asked the Kotwali Police Station to lodge the first information report (FIR) against Ali Raza Khan for demolishing the building, it could not book the owner as the Town-1 administration had granted permission for demolishing the historical building and an inquiry was being carried out in the case to fix the responsibility.