scorecardresearch
Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

Punjab: Alghoza exponent Chuhar Khan dies of snake-bite at his village

Although Chuhar Khan had stopped giving public performances since 2020 due to Covid lockdown, his popularity as a virtuoso and his magic at playing the musical wand never waned

chuhar khanThe renowned Alghoza artiste Chuhar Khan had served and enthralled people with his art for 65 years, but he died in penury. (File)

Chuhar Khan, one of the finest exponents of Alghoza (woodwind musical instrument), died of snake-bite at his village Chottiian in Sangrur on Friday evening. He was 82.

A snake bit him on Thursday night when he was sleeping in the open verandah of his semi-kutcha house.

“However, he realised it after a few hours when his body started getting numb. He was taken to a desi hakim who, according to the family, is an expert in treating snake-bite cases. But he couldn’t survive. He was buried on Friday evening itself,” said Jasvir Singh Chottian, a teacher in the village.

Jasvir, along with two other teachers, used to regularly help Chuhar financially.

Subscriber Only Stories
UPSC Key-October 5, 2022: Why you should read ‘Animal Adoption Scheme’ or...Premium
Telangana plot accused had twice tried to join terror outfits abroad, sto...Premium
Split on method to name new Supreme Court judges, CJI sends 2nd note to C...Premium
MNREGA worker breaks national record in men’s 35km race walkPremium

Chuhar is survived by his 78-year-old wife, two grandchildren (children of his elder son), his younger son and his family.

Although he had stopped giving public performances since 2020 due to Covid lockdown, his popularity as a virtuoso and his magic at playing the musical wand never waned. Till his last days, he could play the instrument with consummate ease. But lately he was out of work.

His granddaughter Soni Bano said that of late, Chuhar had slowed down a bit owing to ill-health.

Advertisement

His elder son died in a road accident a few years ago following which Soni Bano (18) and grandson Raju Khan (16) have been living with Chuhar and his wife. Chuhar’s younger son lives in a separate house with his family.

The renowned Alghoza artiste had served and enthralled people with his art for 65 years, but he died in penury.

He had been managing on his and his wife’s old age pension (Rs 1,500 each). A few good Samaritans have also been chipping in with their mite from time to time.

Advertisement

“Chuhar had applied to the department of cultural affairs, Government of India, for pension two years ago. Reminders were also sent, but there was no response,” Jasvir said.

In 2020, Soni Bano had discontinued her studies despite getting 90% in Class X as they had no smartphone for taking online classes and no bicycle for going to school 10 km away from their house. The Indian Express had highlighted the issue following which financial help had poured in and Soni was able to continue her studies. She got smartphone as well as bicycle through donated money.

Soni is now pursuing her graduation from a Sangrur college, while her brother Raju Khan dropped out of school. Raju studied till Class IX. At present, he is earning his living through AC repair work.

Historian Rakesh Gupta, who too used to help Chuhar occasionally, said, “The ministry of culture should have cleared his pension as it was a genuine case. He was a known figure in Punjab villages. His life was in tatters for want of money. This should not have happened to him. He deserved better.”

Chuhar used to say, “Either I should get some programmes to perform or the department should give me pension. How can artistes like me live in old age after performing for decades? There needs to be a social security scheme for us.”

Advertisement

Rakesh Gupta had helped Chuhar send his application to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Chuhar had been playing Alghoza since his teens. After the Partition, his elder sister got settled in Pakistan with her family. Chuhar could never visit her after that. But she too is no more now. Chuhar had a desire to visit her grave at least once, family members said.

Advertisement

“Chuhar lived in a one room semi-kutcha house. As a result, during rains, he faced waterlogging issue in his area. The verandah of his house often got flooded during monsoon. Perhaps this could have been the reason for the snake sneaking into his verandah,” Jasvir said.

First published on: 14-08-2022 at 09:22:42 am
Next Story

4, including peon, arrested for Ludhiana bank robbery

Latest Comment
Post Comment
Read Comments
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement