Five years have passed since the voice of ghazal legend Mehdi Hassan fell silent and his sons have now sought India’s help for building a mausoleum of their illustrious father in Pakistan and better upkeep of his grave. After his death in Karachi on June 13, 2012, the Pakistan government, as well as the provincial government of Sindh, had promised to build a mausoleum in his memory but so far no progress has been made, they claim.
One of Hassan’s six sons Arif has requested the Indian government to help them out. “After abba’s demise, the government had promised to build a library and mausoleum in his memory. Five years have passed and we are still waiting. Last week, we observed his fifth death anniversary,” Arif told PTI from Karachi.
“We have run out of patience and so we request the Indian government to help us in building a mausoleum in Karachi as Hassan saab enjoyed a huge fan following across the border,” he said. Hassan, the melodious voice behind evergreen hits like ‘Patta patta, boota boota’ and ‘Kab ke Bichhare’ and known as Shehanshah-e-Ghazal, was born on July 18, 1927 in Luna village in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhnu district. Post-Partition, he and his family migrated to Pakistan.
Arif also said his father’s grave is in a pathetic condition. “Only fencing work was done and that too after our tireless efforts. There is a lot of filth and sewage water there. Kids play cricket and people rear their goats in the area. It has also become a hub for anti-social elements which is a matter of concern,” he added.
Close friend of the Hassan family and founder of artistbooking.com, Manmeet Singh, said several Indian artistes are ready to help. “As the Pakistan government is not doing anything in this regard, we are ready to support. I have spoken with many artistes like Hariharan, who went to Karachi after Mehdi Hassan’s demise in 2012, Hansraj Hans and Talat Aziz and they are ready to help,” he said.
Kamran, the US-based son of Hassan, requested the Indian government to organise a tribute for his father at his birthplace in Rajasthan. “Since abba was born in India and had a huge fan following there, I would like to request the government of India, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi to organise a tribute for him at his birth place where I can perform too,” Kamran, himself a ghazal singer, said from Chicago.
Considered one of the most successful ghazal singers of Pakistan, Hassan was trained in classical music by his father Ustad Azeem Khan and his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both well respected classical musicians.
Arif used to accompany Hassan during his last visits to India but Kamran last came to India in 2005. Kamran could not come after that due to visa issues. “I have a US passport I spoke to the councillor general in Chicago and applied for visa last year. But the officials concerned told me that they could not get visa clearance from India. I request Modiji and Sushma Swaraj ji to look into the matter and help me get visa so that I can come and perform at my father’s birthplace,” he added.