District: (Iqbal Manzil in grip of encroachments)

SIALKOT: Though the ancient Iqbal Manzil in Sialkot has worn a new fresh inner look under the government umbrella, but the prolonged problem of open sewage was still badly damaging the bases of Iqbal Manzil, as there was still open sewerage system around this historical legacy, which had been keeping the bases of this ancient building in grip posing serious dangers of collapsing to this building.

In Sialkot, the Iqbal Manzil (the birthplace of Allama Iqbal, the Poet of the East) was still in dire need of to be preserved in its original shape and design.

Now, the whites washed and repaired inner walls, iron stands under the roofs and display of the several more rare photos of Allama Iqbal and his other family members were welcoming and luring the visitors, which reach there to visit this national heritage after passing through the growing encroachments around the Iqbal Manzil in Sialkot city’s congested Kashmiri Muhallah locality.

It is worth mentioning that the mounting encroachments have been eclipsing the beauty of the recently renovated 156 years ancient building “Iqbal Manzil”. The hours-long traffic jams and encroachments were creating hurdles in the way to Iqbal Manzil due to which the visitors were facing hardships while reaching to this national heritage.

Local people were of the view that due to the alleged slackness of Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) Sialkot, the encroachments have mounted to a great extent in the narrowed Kashmiri Muhallah locality of Sialkot city, where the Iqbal Manzil is located.

Despite the repeated appeals made by the local social, political and literary circles, the TMA Sialkot still remains unable to remove these encroachments, created by the local influential people there, while the Sialkot traffic police also remain unable to chalk out any plan to ensure the smooth traffic flow in Kashmiri Bazaar Sialkot, to ensure the smooth and easy passage to this historical building.

Over nine years have lapsed, but the prolonged promised “Iqbal Research Center” has not yet been established at Iqbal Manzil. The then provincial government had announced to establish Iqbal research Center here in 2009, but this promise was still to be fulfilled by the government.

A few years ago, the archaeology department had given a fresh look to the 156 years ancient building “Iqbal Manzil”, after a long negligence. All the cracks in the roofs and inner and outer walls of this building had been filled during its repairing. The government had spent Rs.14 million to save this national heritage in its original shape and design.

Syed Riaz Hussain Naqvi (incharge/care taker of Iqbal Manzil) told that some Indian publishers and printers have donated as many as 123 new books on Iqbaliyat to Iqbal Manzil in a bid to pay rich tributes to Allama Iqbal. These Indian books have also been added in more than 4200 books at the one-roomed small sized library at Iqbal Manzil, he added.

On the other hand, the neighbours of Iqbal Manzil have refused to sell out their houses located around the Iqbal Manzil , due to which the governmental plan of preserving this national heritage in its original shape and saving it from growing encroachments still remains in doldrums.

The federal government had chalked out a plan on the recommendations of Nazria Pakistan Council head by Islamabad based veteran journalist Zahid Malik. Under this plan, the government had decided to purchase all the (ten to twelve) houses located around the Iqbal Manzil , with a sole aim to establish a parking lot, advanced research library on Iqbaliyat there, besides, saving this monument in its original shape by halting the seepage rapidly spreading under this historical building.

Now, the neighbours have refused the offer to sell their houses to the Iqbal Manzil , saying that residing around the Iqbal Manzil; was itself a great honour for them being the neighbour of Iqbal Manzil they would not sell their ancient houses.

When contacted, President Nazria Pakistan Council Sialkot Chapter Mian Naeem Javaid (former Sialkot District Nazim) said that the said project was still intact, however in pipeline. He said government should come forward to play its role for purchasing the houses around the Iqbal Manzil.