New Delhi: Seven years have passed since the demise of Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan but the promise to make a mausoleum and monument in the Shehnai player's memory remains unfulfilled.
The state government announced plans to open a shehnai academy in Lucknow, a museum and a mausoleum in Banaras in the memory of the great artist after his death in August 2006 but nothing happened for seven years, according to Bismillah's family.
“We have been receiving only assurances for the last seven years. If a mausoleum and a monument is not built in his memory, how will people know about him 50 years later? Coming generations will forget about his contribution to music,” Bismillah's son Nazim Hussain told PTI from Banaras.
Hussain said his family and sitar player Pt Dev Vrat Mishra wrote a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after waiting for years to see some progress on the issue.
“We wrote a letter to the Chief Minister on August 18 and a couple of days back, Banaras District Magistrate called us at his office. He went to Khan saab's grave with local officials. We hope that this time the government will fulfill its promise,” Hussain added.
When contacted about this development, DM Pranjal Yadav confirmed that the initial work to build a mausoleum has begun but did not divulge details.
“All I can say at this moment is that the work has begun,” he said.
Bismillah Khan's grave is at same Dargah Fatman area in Nallapura locality of the city where the maestro used to play mourning tunes during the month of Muharram.
Afaq Haider, who the son of Bismillah's elder son Jamin Hussain, claimed that the government had also promised to install a statue of the artist in his beloved city.
“A lot of promises were made but nothing happened. Foreign tourists and artists still come in search of his home and ask about his mausoleum. It is surprising that government has conferred almost all the prestigious awards to him including the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, but we don't have any monument or mausoleum in his name,” he said.
Haider said a monument will help keep the musician's legacy alive.
“At present all his belongings are with the family including the shehnais which he used to play. All this can be kept in the monument so that future generations can see them even after years.” he said.
Born into a family of court musicians in 1913, Bismillah started his music career in 1930. The musician is credited for bringing Shehnai to the center stage with his exceptional talent.
Bismillah was conferred with several awards including Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 2001.
He had the distinction of performing from the Red Fort on August 15, 1947, when India became independent.