LAHORE: Shagufta Begum, the sister of renowned artist Iqbal Hussain, who hails from the Red-Light area inside the Taxali Gate of Lahore, has appealed to the relevant authorities seeking their help in the controversy pertaining to the ownership of the city’s famous restaurant, namely Cooco’s Den.
She appealed to the authorities concerned after a controversy of ownership of Cooco’s Den came into the limelight a few weeks ago. The issue was highlighted on social media after National College of Arts (NCA) former teacher Iqbal Hussain and his family members were being constantly harassed by his nephews.
When Pakistan Today looked into the matter, another side of the story was revealed. It was learned that Iqbal Hussain’s only sister Shugufta Begum was the real victim of this controversy while the rumours regarding the harassment of Hussain were being spread by Hussain’s wife Silwat Iqbal and daughter Mariam Iqbal to garner public sympathies.
During the investigation, it was learned that the dispute between Iqbal Hussain and Shagufta Begum emerged over the property on which Cooco’s Den stands today. The said place is being used as a restaurant but the families of Hussain and his sister Shagufta have been residing at the second and first floors of the building.
According to family sources, the dispute raised its head after the divorce of Iqbal Hussain’s daughter, who was the daughter-in-law of Shagufta.
According to documents available with Pakistan Today, the said property was allotted to the mother of Iqbal Hussain and Shagufta Begum, namely Nawab Begum, who migrated from Patiala in India to Lahore in 1947. Nawab Begum followed her ancestors’ footsteps and started using this place as a brothel house.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Shagufta Begum said that despite being younger to Iqbal, she had been supporting her brother to help him become successful in life. “I was just 12 years old when I first sat in the brothel house to earn money for Iqbal so he could continue his studies,” she said, while adding there was no other prostitute in her area who had struggled hard to support her brother to make him as famous as Iqbal Hussain was at the moment. She said that she had done everything for her brother but now he was defaming her and her sons at the behest of his wife.
Shagufta further said that Iqbal had sold all of her gold ornaments to step into the restaurant business with the launch of Cooco’s Den and he told me that the move would help her sons to earn good money.
“Cooco’s Den could not have been established without my help as I had sacrificed all my wealth and jewelry worth of millions of rupees for the cause,” she claimed.
Shagufta said that in 2013, Iqbal had taken the documents of the property to take a loan and later suffered from a brain hemorrhage. “I asked Iqbal’s wife Silwat to give back the documents but she refused and started claiming that Iqbal had purchased this property against a total sum of Rs 1.1 million.”
Shagufta blamed that Iqbal’s family had made him hostage at their home and did not allow her to meet her brother. “His wife and daughter do not take my brother to a doctor even though he needs proper medical treatment,” she added.
She requested the authorities concerned and friends of Iqbal Hussain to play their part in helping her get back her property and said that without the property it would be difficult for them to make both ends meet.
This correspondent made several attempts to contact Iqbal Hussain on the phone but could not reach him despite repeated attempts. However, his wife Silwat attended his phone and claimed that Iqbal was the real owner of the property. “Shagufta had sold the property of Cooco’s Den in 2013 to Iqbal because she needed money urgently.”
On the other hand, the family sources claimed that the real cause of dispute between Iqbal and Shagufta was Silwat who had launched a propaganda against Iqbal’s nephews to extort the valuable property.