There is another side to MA Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. He was a careful and persistent investor in shares and landed estates. By March 1947, both the Congress and the Muslim League were agreed that India would be partitioned. Even then he was looking for investment options. Given these circumstances, how then is one to explain Jinnah writing to share brokers and estate agents that very month buying 500 shares in Air India Ltd. And showing keen interest in the purchase of “Sandow Castle”, described as “a large property near Bombay with 18 acres of land and with an unrestricted view of the sea”. Its price was advertised at Rs 5 lakh.
This startling fact about Jinnah’s keen desire to buy Air India’s shares is revealed in Jinnah Papers: Pakistan – Struggling for Survival, (January 1 – September 30, 1948, Editor-in-Chief Z.H. Zaidi; Qauid-i-Azam Papers Project, Government of Pakistan; distributed by Oxford University Press, Pakistan.)
That Jinnah was very money-minded person was also once confirmed by the late Smt Dinesh Nandini Dalmia, noted novelist and wife of Seth Ramkrishan Dalmia. She once told that Jinnah used to discuss only money matters during his meetings with her husband at their Sikandara Road residence in capital. Both were great pals. Smt Dalmia met Jinnah many times especially during those days when Jinnah and her husband were sealing the deal for the sale of Aurangzeb Road mansion. Jinnah sold that mansion to Dalmia before leaving for the country he created for Muslims.
It looks that both Jinnah and his number two in Muslim League, Sahebzada Liaquat Ali Khan had no idea that their dream to have homeland for the Muslims of India will become a reality so soon. All India Muslim League passed the resolution for homeland for the Muslims of India on 23rd March in 1940 at Lahore’s Minto Park (now Iqbal Park), they got what they wanted within seven years. It is a very short period of time to achieve such a huge goal. It goes without saying that if they knew that there demand would be accepted so soon, both of them would not have purchased palatial properties in capital.
In fact, both Jinnah and Liaquat, who later became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, left behind grand properties in capital and other parts of the country either unsold or selling in pittance.
Their present valuations would not be less than between Rs 800 to Rs 1000 crore. Jinnah had one house each in the most exclusive areas of both Mumbai (then Bombay) and in New Delhi. While he managed to sold his 10, Aurangzeb Road mansion here in pittance before going to Pakistan, the house in Malabar Hill in Mumbai remained unsold. This house was designed according to European architecture. Even though his estrange daughter, Dina, claimed that house many times, the Indian Government had never accepted her claim. It is a well-known fact that Dina is the mother of Bombay Dyeing Chairman, Nusli Wadia. And since long Pakistan too has been asking for that house of their founding father to start their Mumbai consulate. And the Indian Government has always rejected the request.
It is said that considering the prime location where Jinnah house of Mumbai is situated, it is a gold mine. It would be not less than Rs 600 crore in today’s context. It is a dream house.
Delhi’s Jinnah house is little unfortunate in the sense that unlike the Jinnah house of Mumbai, this has never remained in news. It is said that Jinnah started visiting more often than not in this part of the country after 1940 when Muslim League demanded a separate state for the Indian Muslims. He bought Delhi’s grand mansion in the later part of 1939, he used to stay either at Hotel Maidens or Imperial Hotel instead of staying with some of his party leaders.
Jinnah was not very keen of having a house in Delhi to start with. But after some of his close Muslim League colleagues including Liaquat Ali Khan persuaded him to have one here, he purchased 10 Aurangzeb Road house. In fact, Muslim League leaders also convinced him that as he would have to visit Delhi to meet and organise the Muslims for the cause of Pakistan, hence he must have his own house here. Altaf Hussain, the editor of The Dawn, the organ of Muslim League, was also the caretaker of the house. Those were the days when The Dawn was published from Darya Ganj. Altaf was a Bengali Muslim from Khulna who also used to write speeches of Jinnah laced with venomous communal overtones. Jinnah, who belonged to Islamia Khoja community of Gujarat, had sold this house to Ram Krishna Dalmia for less than Rs 2.25 lakh.
And from exclusive Aurangzeb Road, Tilak Lane (Harding Lane) is also not very far away. In a huge mansion on this lane, Liaquat Ali Khan used to live with his pretty wife, Gul-e-rana, a teacher of English in IP College of Delhi University. Liaquat Ali Khan had huge properties in both Delhi and Karnal. In fact, he belonged to the feudal family of Karnal. He also purchased the house sometime in 1941. Unfortunately, he could not dispose off his house while going to the county which he created. Later, the Indian Government took over the control of his house. And Indian Government given that house to Pakistan Government to make it the official residence of their Delhi based high-commissioner. It may be recalled that Liaquat Ali Khan was killed at the same place in 1951 where Benazir Bhutto was killed. His assassins could never be nabbed. His wife, Gul, was very active in the social life of Delhi. It is said that before going to Pakistan, she took two months leave from her college. She told her colleagues that she would rejoin college. So, even the wife of first PM of newly created nation was not sure that Pakistan is now a reality. Once Sheela Uttam Singh, the colleague of Gul and later principal of the IP College, told that she was extremely affable person and take her job extremely seriously.