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Ex-princess's park ownership claim disputed

Ex-princess's park ownership claim disputed

Mar 17, 2013 - 14:53

 JALALABAD (PANinfo-icon): Recent remarks by former princess Hindia that the Amir Shahid Garden in the eastern city of Jalalabad "is her family's property" has drawn condemnation from public representatives, civil societyinfo-icon activists and the provincial governor.

Hindia, the daughter of King Amanullah Khan (1892 –1960), told reporters on Friday the park belonged to her family and that the construction of a wall around it was a family decision.

A week back, provincial council members demolished the recently-constructed wall around the garden. The public representatives alleged the 83-year-old had hired a lawyer to complete legal formalities for the garden’s sale. 

But Hindia rejected the assertion, saying the wall was aimed at keeping the area clean and preventing drug addicts from sneaking into it. She said a large number of drug addicts had occupied her father's tomb and that no attention was being paid to its cleanliness.

"It is our personal property, we reserve the right to deal with it in any way we want," she remarked during a visit to the park. “We are not selling it, but it is our property,” she insisted.

But Governor Gul Agha Sherzai called the land public property and said nobody had the right to claim its ownership. "When a land remains in government's custody for 37 years, it becomes public property," said Sherzai, citing property rules. He said the garden had been devoted to the tomb of King Amanullah Khan and that no one could sell it.

Provincial council chief Dr. Massoud Safi said hiring Dr. Naik Mohammad as lawyer by the princess had created doubts that she intended to sell the park. "It is no one's property," said Safi, who vowed that the Amir Shahid Park’s sale would not be allowed.

Civil society activist Mohammad Hashim Durrani said there were rumours the princess had already sold the park. "The princess has turned old and it is feared the lawyer would sell it himself once she is no more," he said.

Dr. Naik Mohammad last week said he was a family lawyer and that he possessed legal ownership documents of the land.

He said he had been tasked by the princess to reconstruct the garden and it was the internal matter of her family to sell it or not.

Journalism Faculty head at Nangarhar University Prof. Babrak Miankhel told Pajhwok Afghan News before the death of Amir Habibullah Khan (1872 –1919), the garden was used as a golf course. ""After his death, Habibullah was buried in the garden," he said. He said the land was a public property because the provincial municipality possessed legal documents to claim it.

The reign of King Amanullah was marked by liberal reforms until he was deposed in 1929 and exiled to British India, where Princess Hindia was born.

Banned from returning to her homeland, she spent most of her life in Italy and returned to Afghanistaninfo-icon after the fall of the Talibaninfo-icon in 2001.

She celebrated her return by donating the Monarch’s property and estate in eastern Afghanistan to the Afghan people.

She has worked to increase awareness of the human rights situation in Afghanistan throughout Europe over the last decade. She raised funds for development projects targeted at educationinfo-icon, homeless and orphaned children, and victims’ centers for abused womeninfo-icon.

In 2006, Hindia was named Cultural Ambassador of Afghanistan to Europe by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.



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