Controversy over Bismillah Khan's 'missing' shehnai

  • Pawan Dixit, Hindustan Times, Varanasi
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2014 18:46 IST

The shehnai of legendary player Bismillah Khan has landed in a controversy after some of his family members claimed that it has been stolen.

The incident came to light on Tuesday when the room at the maestro's Bhikashah lane house in Varanasi's Hadda Sarai locality was opened for shifting some articles to another location.

However, Zamin Hussain, one of Bismillah Khan's five sons, had donated a shehnai and his snow white topi to Bangalore's Centre for Indian Music Experience (IME) on September 8.

The IME is the first interactive music museum to be launched in 2015. Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan's shehnai would be permanently showcased at the museum.

Nazim Hussain, Khan's youngest son and his tabla companion at all music concerts, has claimed that it was the original shehnai which has been stolen.

"The original shehnai of my father (Bismillah Khan) was locked in the room where he used to hone his skills. I don't know which shehnai Zamin has donated in Bangalore," Nazim said.

"My father had several shehnais. The one which he used at music concerts is missing. With others he used to practice for hours at his room on third floor of the house," Nazim said.

Nazim has demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should probe into the case of the missing shehnai.

It was kept in the maestro's room which was locked for most of the time after his death on August 21, 2006.

However, Khan's eldest son Mehtab has another version.

"The news of missing shehnai came to lime light on Tuesday. But family members knew that the original shehnai was missing since 2009 and no one had ever raised the issue," Mehtab said.

The original shehnai was with Nayyar, maestro's son who died in 2009, and since then it had been untraceable, Mehtab said.

Mehtab and Kazim, the legend's fourth son, want to demolish a part of their ancestral house for commercial purpose.

While youngest son Nazim is opposing any such activity and wants the Union government to preserve the maestro's house as a museum and national treasure.

With so many versions of the story about the missing shehnai, it seems the controversy is not going to end any soon.

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