LUCKNOW: The next time as you regale yourself with the timeless strains of Ustad Bismillah Khan’s shehnai, do remember he had a three-storey home at Varanasi’s Sarai Haraha, near Dalmandi — a home now being razed for a commercial complex.
This was the place where the Bharat Ratna recipient’s shehnai rested. His favourite room was demolished on August 12. The family of the late maestro has not been able to preserve and carry forward his legacy. Four years back, one of his grandsons sold off four of his shehnais which were later recovered by the UP Special Task Force (STF). Nazre Hassan alias Shadab was arrested for selling three silver and one wooden shehnai with a silver base to a city jeweller for Rs 17,000.
Three days before the maestro’s death anniversary, all that remains of his ancestral house is a mound of rubble. The descendants of the Ustad handed the land to a builder who would build a commercial complex to financially accommodate them. There has been a 50-50 deal between the grandsons of Bismillah Khan and the builder, known to be close to mafia don-turned-politician Muktar Ansari.
Sources close to the family said as per the deal, after the construction of the complex, half of the shops and flats would be handed over to the family while the remaining half would be owned by the builder himself.
The upper floor room of his house which the Ustad had bought in 1936 in Bhikhamshah lane in Haraha Sarai locality was demolished on August 12.
However, the youngest of Bismillah Khan’s four sons, tabla player Nazim Hussain, and his foster daughter Shoma Ghosh, have come out to oppose the move. Both have urged PM Narendra Modi, who is an MP from Varanasi, and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath to help save the heritage. “It has come as a shock to me to know that the room of ‘Baba’ (Khan) was demolished and his belongings were thrown out,” said Soma Ghosh.
"It was not just a room, but a temple or mosque for musicians like us. It is a heritage, and I appeal to all to preserve it,” she said. The district administration seems ignorant about the deal. The Ustad’s another grandson Afaq Haider has also objected to the demolition, saying it was a symbol of national pride. Haider says his grandfather led his life in penury, but preferred to die in his own land rather than accept offers
to lead a comfortable life abroad.