Risingbd Desk: Five shehnais belonging to late musician and Bharat Ratna awardee Ustad Bismillah Khan have been stolen from his son’s house in Varanasi. The theft was discovered late on Sunday night.
Along with the five shehnais — four made of silver and the fifth a mix of silver and wood — a silver plate of the Inayat Khan award won by the maestro and two gold bangles have also gone missing from the house in the Dalmandi area of the temple city in Uttar Pradesh.
The family of the maestro had recently shifted from their ancestral house in the Sarai Harha area to a new location in Dalmandi. On November 30, the family visited their ancestral house for a few days and when they returned to their new house on Sunday night they found the lock broken and the items missing.
An FIR was registered at the Chowk police station against unknown persons, Senior Superintendent of Police (Varanasi) Nitin Tiwari informed. “The items have not been recovered. Investigations are on,” Mr. Tiwari said.
Circle Officer Dashashwamedh is probing the case and on Monday evening personnel of the Special Task Force (STF) also visited the house belonging to Bismillah Khan’s son Kazim Hassan. The shehnai legend’s family is saddened by the theft of the “invaluable items.”
Razi Hassan, Bismillah Khan’s grandson, said the shehnais held a “special meaning” for the family. The four silver shehnais were gifted to Bismillah Khan by former Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao, Congress leader Kapil Sibal, former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Shailesh Bhagwat, a fan from Mumbai, respectively.
The family says it is most upset by the theft of the fifth shehnai, made of silver and wood. “The four silver shehnais were gifts. But the wood and silver one was his legacy, his heritage. He would play that during the Muharram procession every year. We are really saddened that dadaji is no more and his things are also lost,” Mr. Hassan told The Hindu.
The incident has strengthened the family’s long-held demand for a museum to preserve the maestro’s instruments, awards and other memorabilia. It is not the first time his shehnais have been stolen.
“We have been demanding that a museum come up. There are still many awards of his in the house. We still hope that if our demand is fulfilled the remaining items can be safeguarded at least,” Mr. Hassan said.
Known for popularizing the shehnai, a wooden instrument usually played in traditional functions and processions in India, Bismillah Khan died in 2006. He would have turned 100 this year.
risingbd/DHAKA/Dec 7, 2016/Amirul