" Desh ne mujhe bahut samman diya lekin ek baat ka kaphi dukh hai ki mujey India Gate par bajaney ka mauka nahin diya kyonki mein musalman hun .(The country has bestowed on me great honours, but one thing that upsets me is they have not allowed me to play at the India Gate because I am a muslim)."
Shehnai maestro seeks govt aid
[ Monday, January 30, 2006 01:52:06 pmPTI ]
VARANASI: Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, who was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2001, is upset with the government for ignoring him and has urged that all the financial promises made to him be redeemed. The nonagenarian musician has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release all outstanding financial dues pending "since 1961" so that he could take care of his needs in his old age.
The visibly upset maestro stated this while autographing the cover page of a book on him compiled and edited by a journalist couple, at his dilapidated house in Varanasi last week.
With tears in his eyes, the ailing musician said: " Mujhey yaad nahin hai ke kisne kya kaha tha aur kya ummid dilaye thi, lekin agar mere marney se pahley Bharat sarkar ek rupiya bhi de deti to shayad mujhey sukun milta. (I don’t remember who promised what, but before I die if the Indian government gives me even one rupee then it will give me mental peace)."
Delhi-based journalist couple Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha, who got the great musician to autograph the book, also presented him two shawls and Rs 20,000 cash to buy medicine. Khan has also received the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri… Khan said: "Since 1961, when I was awarded the Padma Shri, I have raised the issue with every successive Prime Minister and top politicians including Indira Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi, HD Deve Gowda, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Sonia Gandhi but none has paid attention to my plea."
He alleged that he had requested that he be allowed to play at the India Gate in New Delhi, but was denied a chance because he is muslim.
" Desh ne mujhe bahut samman diya lekin ek baat ka kaphi dukh hai ki mujey India Gate par bajaney ka mauka nahin diya kyonki mein musalman hun . (The country has bestowed on me great honours, but one thing that upsets me is they have not allowed me to play at the India Gate because I am a muslim)."
The musician, sitting on his wheel-chair, said he was deeply touched and overwhelmed by the journalists for bringing out a book on him. The couple has arranged a public felicitation at his home on his 91st birthday, which falls on March 21.
"Ustadji hails from Bihar and so do we. Till date, neither the Bihar government nor the people of the state have organised any public function to pay tribute to the living legend for his contribution to Indian classical music," Shivnath Jha said.
On his birthday, Khan will release the book. Five years ago, the then government had given him Rs 500,000 as grant after a TV news channel revealed his financial plight, but since then he has been forced to fend for himself.
"Bismillah Khan is a one-man army engaged in propagating and popularising the shehnai globally. We have started a movement to protect art and artistes, especially those on are on the verge of a financial crisis, and we are confident we will win the battle," said Jha.
The 200-page book on the maestro contains facets of his life, career and achievements. It has rare photographs of Khan, his birthplace at Dumraon in Bihar and of the river Ganges at Varanasi, sourced from the maestro’s personal collection.
An ornamental copy of the monograph had been sent to President APJ Abdul Kalam on Khan’s 90th birthday.