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Jaiswal to invite Bismillah Khan for India Gate concert

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 26 (UNI) Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal will visit Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan's house in Varanasi on Friday to personally extend an invitation to the legend, who has expressed his 'last wish' to play at the India Gate in July for global peace and communal harmony.

The nonagenarian Ustad, who enthralled a newly-independent India from the ramparts of the Red Fort in 1947, has now been given official nod to fulfil his wish of a solo concert, titled 'The Tune India' at the India Gate on July 15.

Mr Jaiswal will visit the frail Ustad at his CK-46/62 house at Sarai Harha in Varanasi to extend the invitation and inquire about his well-being.

The initiative was taken by the capital-based couple Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha, who have launched an initiative ''Bismillah'' (The Beginning) to provide succour to musicians, academicians and artists who have brought laurel to the country.

''As a part of the initiative, I am going to request the maestro to play his melodious 'sur' at India Gate for global peace and communal harmony and to pay respects to the World War I martyrs,'' said Mr Jaiswal.

The Minister said the government fully backed the noble endeavour of Bismillah Khan, who wants to fulfil his 'antim abhilasha' (last wish) by playing at the India Gate.

On August 15, 1947, Bismillah Khan had performed from the ramparts of the Red Fort after being pursuaded by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

For the July 15 concert, the Union Home Ministry has asked Delhi Police Commissioner K K Paul to complete all formalities.

The only musician to have been decorated with all the top national awards (Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri), Bismillah Khan had expressed his wish to perform at the India Gate during his 91st birthday celebrations in Varanasi last month.

His well-wishers had cut a 91-kg cake on his 91st birthday, the celebrations of which he delayed to pay respects to the victims of the twin blasts in Varanasi a fortnight before his birthday.

''More than 5,000 people from across the world are expected to attend the concert,'' said the Jha couple, who co-authored a monogram on the maestro two years ago.

Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, who had announced a financial assistance of Rs 10,000 per month for the ailing musician, said the concert would ''play a key role in restoring peace and communal harmony not only in India but across the world''.

Mr Jaiswal said he would ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to extend monetary help to the living legend.

UNI SKS/FZ HS KN1124

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