Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has offered treatment to the ailing ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan in India. Mr. Gehlot, who talked to the singing legend's son Arif the other day enquiring about his father's health, has taken up the issue of his visa with the Union External Affairs Ministry and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The 84-year-old patriarch, now on ventilator in a private hospital in Karachi in Pakistan with a serious lung condition, hails from Rajasthan's Shekhawati region.
Though nobody from the family lives in their native Luna village in Jhunjhunu district there are childhood friends like 91-year-old Narain Singh Shekhawat, still remembering him as a young boy taking music lessons from his father Azim Jaan and wrestling in the sand.
Young Mehdi had left the village one year before Partition at the age of 12.
His father and uncle Karim Jaan, who first went to Basti Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, where the ruler was a big patron of their music, however left for Pakistan eventually.
Visits to India
Mr. Shekhawat remembers Mr. Mehdi Hassan visiting the village three times since the latter's departure for Pakistan.
Mr. Gehlot offered his son Arif Hassan to bear all medical expenses of his father once he is brought to India.
However, responding to the request of Mr. Gehlot, Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed informed that Mr. Hassan would not be in a position to travel to India immediately.
“Our High Commission in Islamabad has been in touch with the son of Mr. Mehdi Hassan who has informed us that Mr. Mehdi Hassan is in hospital and it may not be possible to move him from there for the next 4-5 days until his condition stabilises.”
Mr. Ahmed told Mr. Gehlot that once the family agrees to move Mr. Hassan to India they could get in touch with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad for visa purposes.