In January, the Modi government promulgated an ordinance amending the Enemy Property Act 1968. The provisions of the ordinance are to be incorporated in a bill, which the government is expected to introduce in Parliament.

The ordinance (as also the bill) has severe implications for Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, who is still popularly known as the Raja of Mahmudabad. For over four decades he has waged a relentless battle to secure custody of his properties which the government took over on the grounds that his father, who was the Raja of Mahmudabad at the time of India’s Independence, became a Pakistani citizen.

In a conversation with, Amir Khan narrates his life story and the protracted court battles he has waged. In his recollection of the time past figure such towering personalities as Nehru, Jinnah, Sarojini Naidu, Ayub Khan, Mujibur Rahman, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, Morarji Desai and Chandra Shekhar. Excerpts from a two-hour long conversation:

Where were you and your father, Raja Mohammad Amir Ahmed Khan, at the time of India’s Independence?
On August 13, 1947, we flew from Quetta in a Dakota to Zahedan, Iran. We were the guests of the Governor-General and then of the Shah. From there, we went to Mashhad, which for us Shiites is a place of pilgrimage. We went on to Iraq, and after four-five months, in January or February, we returned to India. After staying in Lucknow for a while, my father left for Iraq again. He built a house in Karbala. My mother, sisters and I joined him there in 1950.

How old were you then?
I was seven. I was admitted to a school which taught Arabic, Persian and secular subjects. I studied there for three years. While I was there, I heard my father had been called to India. His uncle came as a special messenger of Sarojini Naidu, who was then Uttar Pradesh’s Governor. My father addressed her as Phuphi (father’s sister).

Did your father visit India? Why did Sarojini Naidu call him?
Yes, he met Sarojini Naidu in India. She wanted my father to return to India. He said he would be very happy to do so, and that he didn’t wish to leave India.

VS Naipaul in India: A Million Mutinies Now wrote about three conditions imposed on your father before he could return to India.
The first condition was that he would not participate in politics. Naidu didn’t put it so bluntly. She said, “Amir, it is time you realise your real gift.” I didn’t mention this to Naipaul, but I am mentioning it to you. That gift she was referring to was poetry, music and literature, things that are sensitive to the soul. He had an extraordinary singing voice. Rabindranath Tagore, whom my grandfather knew, had offered my father a place in Shanti Niketan.

My father inferred from her statement that she didn’t want him to join politics, that he ought not to have a profile in public affairs, as yet. What she perhaps meant was that since my father was associated with (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah, there should be a cooling off period.

My father answered that it wasn’t an issue of deliberately taking up politics and entering public life. He said, “If there is injustice I would speak about it. I believe speaking against injustice is mandatory for every individual.”

Naidu’s second condition was that he should condemn the Nizam of Hyderabad. She said he had gone off the rails and terrible things had happened there. My father said, “He is down and out. The people of Hyderabad have accepted India with open arms. Why do you want me to kick a man who is nearly dead? That is against my dignity.”

Thirdly, Naidu wanted him to issue a statement against cow-slaughter. He said, “Phuphi, I will not eat beef.” Thereafter, he never ate beef throughout his life. But he added that he could not issue the statement she wanted him to. “Why?” He replied, “Because poorer Muslims have no other source of (affordable) non-vegetarian protein. If the government is prepared to subsidise mutton or poultry, I will gladly issue the statement.”

Naidu said, “You are very mischievous.” I think these were not her conditions, but rather those of other important people. I don’t know who they were but I suspect that may have been people like Purushottam Das Tandon, who thought there would be trouble if my father were to return to India.

But why didn’t your father want to return to India?
My father was totally traumatised by the riots before the Partition. He later told me that he blamed his naiveté for not being able to anticipate the horrific occurrences. He said, after all, the Congress and the Muslim League were all against the British.

Jinnah had a great influence on my father. He was much older and his guardian. He persuaded my father that the Partition was akin to two brothers separating from a joint family and building a wall. Jinnah may have anticipated the horrific events, the acrimony, but my father didn’t.

He asked Jinnah, “What was to be done for Muslims who don’t wish to go to Pakistan?” My father was taken aback by Jinnah’s answer, which was very cold and legalistic, “Amir, they will have to fend for themselves.”

My father told Jinnah that he wanted to stay back in India. To which, Jinnah responded, “If you were to come here (Pakistan), you could go to some other country as our envoy.” He heard later that the country Jinnah had in mind was the Soviet Union.

So why did your father opt for Pakistan?
He remained an Indian citizen until 1957, but was a tortured soul. He tried to do business in Iraq unsuccessfully. One fine morning he sent my mother and me to India.

That was in which year?
In 1953, and we came back to India. I knew neither English nor Hindi, only Persian, Arabic and Urdu. I went through a crash course in English and got into La Martiniere from where I matriculated. During this period my father would visit India every other year, mind you, as an Indian citizen. Then my father decided to send me to school in England.

This was when?
In 1959, I went to Aldenham School, near Elstree, where the studios are. It is a school from the Elizabethan times. From there, I went to Cambridge. I studied Mathematics. I went to Imperial College in London after my degree, where I did theoretical and space physics. After this, Sir Fred Hoyle, the well-known mathematician and astrophysicist, admitted me to the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, where I started work for my PhD and taught undergraduates there.

Where was your father then?
From 1947 to 1957, my father had largely lived in Iraq – first in Karbala and then in Baghdad – except for short periods when he came home to India. Towards the late 1950, his friends became very concerned as to how nationalism was going to play out in Iraq and how foreigners would be treated.

So my father left Iraq.

He used to visit Pakistan on the Indian passport. In 1957, he went to Karachi and said he would decide where to stay. I, really, don’t know what happened. There are various versions. But in December 1957, he went to CC Desai, who was our High Commissioner, and announced that he was surrendering his passport.

Desai rang up Nehru and reported what my father had done. Nehru told Desai not to cancel his passport, adding, “He is an impulsive man. I know him so well.”

How did you come to know about their conversation?
From my father. He himself didn’t know about this conversation. He came to Delhi a year or so later and met Nehru who had great affection for him, even though he thought my father had been misguided. Nehru told my father, “Your passport hasn’t been cancelled. Why don’t you rethink your decision? Desai has your passport. Take it back.” To which, my father replied, “One cannot change one’s nationality like clothes. Passports are not clothes, bhaisahib.” Nehru was very saddened.

In 1957, you and your mother were in Lucknow, right?
Yes. We all lived together in Lucknow, my mother, my father’s brother and others. My uncle was a barrister; his wife was my mother’s sister. My mother was the Rani of Bilehra. She refused to have anything to do with Pakistan. She told him, “I would like to visit you, but I will not go there.” In those days, Karachi had these wonderful cars and beautiful buildings. But she’d say, “I like my jalopy. I like my home.” She was deeply sad, for my sisters who were married had also gone to Pakistan.

Your father left Pakistan, didn’t he? What made him take that decision?
My father loved me dearly but there were things he didn’t share with me, for whatever reasons. Perhaps this was because he thought I wouldn’t be able to understand, or that I would get emotionally upset.

But one of the things he did mention was that Dr Khan Sahib (Dr Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan), the brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, who came to be known as the “Red Maulana of Bangladesh”, besides some of the Left-leaning leaders from Baluchistan, had suggested to my father that he should form a political party. They wanted such a party to fight for democracy and the rights of the people.

My father gave me the impression that he had, sort of, agreed. But he thought it over and eventually delivered a public speech citing three reasons why he didn’t want to form a party.

Firstly, he said that he didn’t speak any local language. He didn’t think of Urdu as a local language. This went down very well with Bengali Muslims (Bangladeshis now), particularly with Mujibur Rahman, to whom my father was very close. Mujibur was a member of the Muslim League’s Muslim Students Federation, of which my father had been the president. It also went down very well with the Punjabis, who too thought that Urdu had been imposed on Pakistan.

Secondly, my father said that he didn’t belong to any of the non-urban areas of Pakistan. And thirdly, he told his audience that he was a Shia and thought it would be unfair of him to impose himself on a predominantly Sunni country.

He also realised very quickly, especially after the 1958 coup (by Ayub Khan), that the dream of a socialist, secular Pakistan, in which he believed, had been completely betrayed.

Were there any differences between Field Marshal Ayub Khan and your father?
Ayub Khan sent a draft copy of the [new] Constitution that had been prepared under his direction to my father. It was called the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. My father wrote to Khan requesting him to remove the word Islamic, because a Republic has all kinds of religious denominations. He also said there was this question – which Islam and what its meaning was. He also reminded the Field Marshal that Jinnah had told the Constituent Assembly that Pakistan would be a secular country.

Did your father move out of Pakistan?
Yes, he used to spend little time in Pakistan and was either in the Middle East or travelled to London to see me. He was involved in setting up the Regents Park Mosque and the Islamic Centre and was elected as its first Director with Saudi and Egyptian support despite the fact that he was a Shia. He was also the Vice Chairman of the World of Islam Festival in London but he died before that event.

I assume he travelled on the Pakistani passport from 1957.
Yes. One day I came home from school to be told that my mother had taken very ill. She had read a telegram which came from the office downstairs. I found out that the telegram revealed that my father had become a Pakistani. My uncle was also deeply saddened. I used to travel on her passport, which was Indian. When I went to London to study it was on an Indian passport.

What led to the attaching of your family’s properties in 1965?
In 1965, when hostilities between India and Pakistan broke out, the Defence of India Rules, 1962 were invoked. All our property was taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property. The very word, custodian, has certain connotations. I must stress here that Evacuee Property has nothing to do with Enemy Property.

Could you explain?
Evacuee property was the property of those people who were living in India and had migrated to Pakistan between 1947 and 1953. In 1955, the Evacuee Property Act was repealed. When my father became a Pakistani, he was still paying taxes in India and continued to own his properties in India. All the properties he owned were declared Enemy Property.

If you read the history of such Acts, the reason for declaring any property as enemy property is to ensure that the enemy shouldn’t have access to it. It is also done to ensure that the income or usufruct from the property isn’t used for the detriment of India. The property was taken over only (for) the purposes of maintenance and preservation.

This is what happened in World War II in England.
Absolutely, in fact it started with World War I if I am right. So the custodian took over these properties…

Did they seal these properties?
No, they took them over and started collecting rents and so on.

Which properties of your father were taken?
Everything that was in my father’s name.

The Qila (palace) in Mahmudabad?
Yes, that too. That was sealed. Later we got relief from the High Court and the Supreme Court and the house was opened up. My mother and uncle lived there.

When was that relief given?
In 1966, the judicial process takes time. The Supreme Court granted the relief. The Qila in Mahmudabad is central to Muharram observances. It is open to the public. To this day, Hindus, Sunnis and Shias participate in it. For this reason as well as the fact that the entire family stayed there, it was opened up. My uncle was given the charge by the Custodian of Enemy Property to see everything was in order.

In addition to that, the Custodian under the powers conferred by the Act of 1968 and rules framed under it, gave a maintenance allowance to my mother and to me. Implicit and tacit in this action was the acknowledgement that the properties vested in the Custodian were my father’s and that they vested temporarily.

My mother was deeply offended, but my uncle explained the importance of taking the allowance. He said the receipt she signed was a recognition by the government of its responsibilities. My mother’s maintenance allowance was less than mine.

How much was it?
It was not substantial but we accepted. Receipts were regularly issued. The practice continued till 1980.

So Mahmudabad Qila remained accessible to you?
Yes, we were living in it, as we always did. The PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) that had been posted there in 1965, left in stages. Initially, they gave access to only limited areas. My mother consequently had to live in verandahs. Later, when we won our claim in late 1966 in the Supreme Court that the Qila was also a religious venue, they opened up the whole place.

Nothing was stolen?
Oh, huge thefts took place. FIRs were registered at the time and a case is theoretically still going on. The Qila was guarded but no arrests were made because the culprits were not found.

You must have been in London then.
I was in Cambridge and I was deeply depressed even though I didn’t fully understand all the ramifications of what was happening.

It must have been a shock.
It was heartbreaking to know what my family was going through.

In 1973, your father died.
He died in October 1973 in London. I was in India with my mother, having just left my father in England. When I got the news I again left India, and my uncle and I arranged for his last rites. It was a most terrible shock, my father was 58 years old.

Later, I was allowed to break my research in Cambridge and return to my mother to India. I began to petition the government to release the properties. My reasoning was as follows – my father had died, I was his only son, the sole heir, and therefore succeeded my father according to the law, therefore I inherited his property. Moreover I am an Indian citizen by birth and have held no other nationality.

Therefore, you didn’t come under the definition of enemy as spelt out under section 2 (B) of the Act, which says “not including Indian citizens”.
Yes. Of course, the government regarded me as an Indian citizen who has only ever had an Indian passport.

You must have petitioned the Commerce Ministry, under which the custodian came.
No, I first petitioned then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi. There was no answer. Undaunted, I continued to represent my case to every commerce minister. The law was very clear, indeed even the Enemy Property Act 1968, itself.

When Morarji Desai became Prime Minister, I petitioned him. He called me.

Did he?
He was kind enough to give me an appointment. He read the petition in front of me and said, “How could this happen?”

I replied, “I have no answer, Sir.”

Desai asked, “Which ministry?”

I said, “Commerce.”

Then he said, “I see you have studied astronomy and astrophysics. Do you know astrology?”

I said, “No.”

Desai said, “That’s a great gap. You should look at it, shouldn’t you?”

I said, “Yes Sir, I should.” That was better part of discretion.

Then he asked, “Are you married?”

I said, “No”

Desai said, “What, not married? You must get married.”

He rang up Mohan Dharia (Commerce Minister) to tell him that he was sending some papers for his immediate attention.

This meeting must have happened between 1977 and 1979.
This was in 1978, but the government fell. I did not petition Charan Singh, who took over from Morarji Desai.

Did you petition Indira Gandhi once she returned to power in 1980?
Yes, I did. She said she would forward my petition to the concerned ministry, but it is I who would have to pursue it. I did that.

There was this gentleman called, Mr Joginder Singh, who became the Director of CBI much later. At that time, he was the Director (Vigilance), Commerce Ministry. I used to see him. He was processing my case. Finally, in 1981, I got a call from the Custodian, Rani Yadav, who said, “I have very good news for you. The Cabinet has taken the decision to release your properties.”

I waited and waited for several weeks, but nothing happened. So I called Rani Yadav. She informed me that only 25% of the properties would be released.

Why 25%? What was the logic of it?
I didn’t know then and I can’t claim I know now. Rani Yadav said 25% was the instruction which had come to her. I met Joginder Singh. He said it was the Cabinet’s decision. He said the property will be released to whoever are the late Raja’s legal heirs.

I feel the government of that time thought, as governments usually do, that it was being very shrewd and believed I would get entangled in litigations, that I would not get a clear order of succession from the court.

What did you do to prove your succession?
I went to the civil court in Lucknow. I got an order in 1986 saying that I was the sole heir. The Custodian was impleaded and never appealed against this order. With this in hand I requested the Commerce Ministry to release my properties. Yet again there was no answer.

A new dimension had been added. Now what was to be released to me would be 25% of all my properties or what was worth Rs 25 lakh, whichever was less.

Did you go back to Mrs Indira Gandhi?
I had met Mrs Gandhi a couple of months before she was assassinated. I met her at iftaar in Hyderabad House. I went up to (Mrs. Gandhi’s personal secretary) RK Dhawan and reminded him that my matter was still pending. He asked me to talk directly to her. I went up to her. She was very nice to me which put me at ease. I then made a blunder by pressing a request of a well-known politician from UP. Mrs Gandhi’s expression immediately changed. I cursed myself for until that moment she had been attentive, if not empathetic. But then she said, “Talk to Dhawan”, turned around and walked away.

Strange, you were being denied your rights even though you became a Congress MLA in 1985.
I did become an MLA on the Congress ticket. I wanted to serve India in some field connected to research in pure sciences, mainly, mathematics and physics. I wrote to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi about this. In return, Rajiv Gandhi said, “The UP Vidhan Sabha election is in 1985. You contest.”

Did he say this to you in a one-to-one meeting?
No, this message was conveyed to me through one of his political secretaries, Ahmad Patel. He asked me which constituency I would want to contest from. “Where else but Mahmudabad,” I said. I won the election. My victory margin was second best in Uttar Pradesh.

I wrote letters to Rajiv Gandhi reminding him about my properties that had been declared Enemy Property. I would get replies saying, “Your matter is being considered.” This went on and on. I fought the Vidhan Sabha election in 1989 and won again. Nobody from the Congress had won in Sitapur district (in which Mahmudabad falls).

When the VP Singh government fell, Chandra Shekhar became Prime Minister. I was told he was willing to listen to me on the property issue. I was supposed to meet him. It is just my luck that there was an accident near the Polish Embassy, so I was late by 15 minutes. When I reached there, the prime minister was about to leave. I told him about the accident. He said, “You come back again. But you must go in to have tea.” But his government too fell.

The Congress nominated me to contest again in the 1991 Assembly election, but I decided I had reached the end of road as far as elections were concerned. Politics had become incomprehensibly corrupt, criminalised and beyond my means.

Did you resign from the Congress?
No, I never resigned. In 2004, I stood on the Congress ticket for the Lok Sabha knowing well that I would lose. But I contested for only one reason. I felt what had happened in 1992 – it was not the Babri Masjid which had fallen, but a symbol of India’s extraordinary plural culture. I felt a point had to be made. (The Vajpayee government was in power then). I stood and lost.

I guess after getting tired of petitioning successive governments you petitioned the Bombay High Court in 1997, right?
When I realised that the government was not honouring its own offer, however arbitrary, I had no other recourse except to seek the justice through our law courts.

I want to say something here that is important. My petitions may be about restoring my properties, but they are also about a principle. These are ancestral properties. I am merely a custodian of them. Therefore, I bear a serious responsibility to the memory of my forebears, to the present and future generations. I have always thought this responsibility comes with a moral obligation, a duty. I knew that I could have equally lost the case, but even in losing at least I would have done my duty by my forebears who struggled, built, suffered and died and by those in the future who may rightly question what I did to preserve their memory.

I succeeded in filing a writ petition in the Bombay High Court. This was possible because the Custodian of Enemy Property’s office is in Mumbai. We won there in 2001.

You went to the court for having your properties released?
To have my properties restored to me in accordance with the prevailing laws of the land. I am the rightful owner of these after the death of my father in 1973, which was exactly what the court held. The Union appealed against the High Court judgement in 2002. In 2005 I won the appeal. Strictures were passed against the government, for the Supreme Court held that the government had been in illegal possession of my properties since the death of my father in October 1973.

And that was because you were not included in the definition of enemy under Section 2 (b).
Not only that, they stated that it wasn’t the purpose of our Constitution to harass its own citizens. The SC ordered that I be given vacant possession of the properties within eight weeks. I was also awarded a token amount towards legal costs. I was given immediate possession of most of the properties except a few which were occupied by alleged tenants.

In Hazratganj?
Yes, in Hazratganj, because two properties there were occupied. I must make it clear that the court had ordered these properties to be handed back to me, the only issue was of working out the modality.

That was where the problem was. Many occupants said they had been there for ages. Our contention was that those who had been there before a certain point should remain, and those who weren’t should go.

They came in as interveners in the Supreme Court. Those five properties became a subsidiary issue in the court.

Was the Metropole Hotel in Nainital also handed over to you?
Yes, it was. My wife started developing it. We borrowed money from banks and she managed to restore, repair and renovate two buildings in that historical hotel complex. One day five years later, in July 2010, we discovered that the UPA government had promulgated an ordinance to retrospectively change the Enemy Property Act, 1968.

Was the 2010 ordinance similar to the ordinance of January 2016?
The two ordinances are more or less similar. Both would have the retrospective effect of annulling all previous judgements, including of the Supreme Court. The retrospective nature of these infringes upon the separation of powers espoused in our Constitution. Additionally, there is also much else in the Ordinance 2016 that directly contravenes our Constitution.

But the 2010 ordinance was allowed to lapse.
Yes, it was. Even before the ordinance was allowed to lapse, we went to the Delhi High Court to challenge it and ask for restoration of our properties.

But these had been already restored to you.
The properties were restored to me in 2005, but they were summarily repossessed as Enemy Properties on August 2, 2010. The ordinance was promulgated on July 2, even though Parliament was to convene on July 26, 2010. What was the reason for emergency legislation? On August 2, this ordinance was placed before Parliament.

Many MPs went to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said how unjust and egregious it was. He assured them that it would be allowed to lapse. But the properties were already being taken over. Please note that they took over the properties of an Indian citizen who had never been a Pakistani, who is by birth an Indian citizen and has always remained so.

But what makes me concerned is that the media somehow did not take note of the fact that the government could take away the property of an Indian simply by projecting that it as Pakistani property, which it had long ceased to be.

We have had enormous problems because of the 2010 ordinance. Most of the properties are locked up and are systematically being destroyed and looted.

What about Metropole Hotel in Nainital and the Butler Palace in Lucknow?
They are supposedly all locked up but in fact both Butler Palace as well as Hotel Metropole have been looted, vandalised and reduced to pitiful state. All the painstaking work done on the two buildings of the Metropole complex has been destroyed. I spent money on them and had taken loans for their renovation. There are weeds growing where beautiful gardens had been created. Marble from Butler Palace has been ripped out and even the window frames have been stolen. An important building in the Metropole complex was burnt down in 2013. We have written letters, but received no replies.

We later filed an RTI and found out that ours was the only properties that had been taken over under the ordinance. By the way, there have been many cases similar to mine, in the Calcutta and Bombay High Courts. The Supreme Court order of 2005 had become a beacon of hope for many to get back their properties.

What was the response of the Delhi High Court?
We went to the Delhi High Court in August 2010. In April 2011 Attorney General GE Vahanvati appeared to argue on preliminary grounds (after 8 months of our matter being heard in this court). Such questions are usually disposed of in the first or second hearing. The AG argued that the High Court of Delhi did not have jurisdiction. This was wrong as the 2010 ordinance was not legislative but executive action that we had challenged. There is a distinction between the two. So after nearly nine months we were told to go another court.

We chose to go the Uttarakhand High Court in Nainital, because of our hotel there. For the first time, the UP government was impleaded. One of the occupants from our Harzratganj property also asked to be impleaded. The case saw adjournment after adjournment. Finally, the Supreme Court issued instructions that the matter be heard and decided. Finally, the matter was heard, the pleadings were completed. But then the judge sprang a surprise on us, saying that he was being transferred to Allahabad and he didn’t give a judgement.

What did you do then?
I went to the Supreme Court. It took a year and a half to get this matter heard. The Chief Justice of India ordered the case to be transferred to the Supreme Court. Thereafter, many benches changed.

There is a special date I would like to mention. On September 2, 2015 the case came up. The government counsel told the bench that he would like to request for an adjournment as he had to get clear instructions from his client, the Union of India, whether it wished to release the properties in view of the Supreme Court judgement or whether they wished to continue contest.

My matter was to be heard on January 7, 2016. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had appeared earlier to say that the government would contest as it wished to bring in a new ordinance. Rohatgi appeared for mentioning because, though the case had been listed, there was no chance of it coming up for hearing. It was so low in the list.

On the same day, the ordinance was promulgated.

I filed a writ petition challenging the 2016 ordinance. On January 14, 2016, the judges gave the order that they would issue notices to the Union of India and the custodian. It meant the case against the 2016 ordinance would be tagged with the case we were already fighting against the 2010 ordinance. The court said they would consider the issue of giving us interim relief when they would hear the matter next. Six days later, the court directed that there should be no alienation of the properties, thus preventing the government from taking action under one of the most egregious provisions of the ordinance which (allows) the Custodian to sell properties.

So the case will drag on for a few years or months at least.
There is no way I can know.

Till then, you can’t hope to get control over Metropole hotel and other properties.
As I said earlier, the government took over the properties in 2010 and now turns a blind eye to the wanton vandalism and loot that takes place. Weeds and mounds of rubbish have regained possession of this heritage hotel. It is important to state here that the government also took over charitable and public Waqf property.

I have faith that the judiciary will right the wrongs committed by two governments.

What do you think drove this government, as well as the earlier one, to promulgate these ordinances?
It is difficult for me know exactly. I suppose there must be some powerful vested interests who have benefited because of enemy property over the last 50 years. But the principal reason may be an attempt to put a lid on huge misdoing and corruption.

Yes. For instance, the Bombay High Court in a recent judgement passed strictures against the custodians. This led to a CBI investigation against him, but which people are now trying to hush up. They sold a property in Bandra which was estimated to be Rs 800 crore but its sale price was registered at Rs 11-12 lakh. This did not escape attention.

I would like to submit that the custodian is not alone in doing this. I am not speaking about the present custodian. I am speaking about the post, low in the civil service hierarchy but immensely powerful. The custodian consequently works with higher rungs of politicians and officialdom.

The powers that be are there both in the BJP and the Congress.
Whether in politics or otherwise, vested interests tend to be very powerful. Regardless of political interests I am sure that my rights as an Indian will be upheld and justice will be restored.

Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is available in bookstores.