He left a trifle too soon. Ninety-year-old shehnai maestro, Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan had always wanted to perform at India Gate in memory of martyrs. In fact, the Centre had already invited him for the special programme scheduled for August 9. But, the programme was postponed due to a threat perception.
Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal had formally invitated the Ustad three months ago for the programme. The Minister had visited the Ustad at the latter’s house in Varanasi.
A large number of special guests including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President APJ Abdul Kalam, singer legent Lata Mangeshkar, renowned economist Amarty Sen and sitar maestro Ravisankar were schedule to attend Ustad saheb’s programme on August 9.
At the time of receiving formal invitation from the Minister, Bismillah Khan had said that he would play a very special “social tune” for communal harmony and brotherhood.
Recently, when Ustad saheb’s son Naiyyer Hussain had performed at a Spic Macay function in Jaipur on June 14 and 15, the ailing Ustad saheb had just put the shehnai to his lips and then, passed it on to his son.
Hussain said, his father used to say, “Naiyyer, you play shehnai after my death so that my soul finds solace”.