Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan’s house in Varanasi’s Benia Bagh is being demolished to make way for a three-storied building.
The house was purchased in 1936 and it was here that Bismillah Khan lived all his life. He even turned down offers made by his disciples to settle in the US.
The house is now owned by the maestro’s grandsons — sons of late Mehtab Hussain, one of his five sons.
One of the grandsons, Sufi, said that the decision to raze the house had been taken due to financial considerations.
“A three-storied commercial apartment will be constructed and we will have a museum of Bismillah Khan in one part of the building. We will keep all his personal belongings, awards, commendations, etc., in this museum,” he said.
Khan’s disciple and foster daughter, singer Soma Ghosh, said she was ‘shocked’ to know of the demolition of the house.
“I was shocked to know the room of ‘Baba’ (Khan) was demolished and his belongings thrown away. It was not just a room, but a place of worship for music-lovers. It is a heritage, and I appeal to all to preserve it,” she said.
Incidentally, the demolition has begun just days ahead of the 14th death anniversary of Bismillah Khan which falls on August 21.
The maestro, who passed away in 2006, was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2001.
Bismillah Khan had played Shehnai at the Red Fort on August 15, 1947, and became a part of history.
In January 2017, his grandson had stolen his four shehnais, including three made of silver, and sold them to local jewellers for Rs 17,000.
The Uttar Pradesh STF had arrested his grandson and two jewellers and recovered the melted silver. The three silver shehnais had been gifted by former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Congress leader Kapil Sibal to the maestro.