Sindh Govt asks Arts Academy to vacate Hindu Gymkhana building

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Karachi, Sept 19 : The Sindh Government has reportedly served a notice on the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi to vacate the Hindu Gymkhana, and hand over its possession to the Sindh government without any compensation.

According to The News, the NAPA has been directed to vacate the Hindu Gymkhana premises within three months of the receipt of the notice.

Once the NAPA vacates the premises, the provincial Culture Department would allow the Hindu community to use a certain portion for their cultural and social activities, while the other portion would be used for setting up a centre for Sindh arts and crafts, added the paper.

The Hindu Gymkhana has been declared as a protected heritage site under the Sindh Culture Heritage (Preservation) Act of 1994. The Culture Department was, therefore, of the firm opinion that by constructing a theatre and auditorium within the Gymkhana premises, NAPA has violated the agreement which it entered on September 23, 2005, with the Culture and Tourism Department.

Meanwhile, the move has led to criticism from artistes and members of civil society, who said that the culture and tourism department had taken a "negative decision" by asking NAPA to quit the Gymkhana premises.

"We are ready to facilitate them when they find new premises, but in case of the Hindu Gymkhana, NAPA has committed a breach of the agreement and violated the provisions of the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act of 1994," the paper quoted Jafrani as saying in response to the criticism.

Jafrani added: "We hope that the NAPA people are highly educated and sensible and they would never resort to hunger strikes. Rather they would prefer to resolve the issue amicably. The people who have been speaking on their behalf for staging a strike are, in fact, not affiliated with NAPA."

The construction of the Hindu Gymkhana was started in 1925. It was completed in 1927 under the sponsorship of a philanthropist, Seth Ram Gopaldas Goverthandas Mohatta. The Hindu community had been using the Gymkhana for their cultural and religious gatherings.

ANI

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