A pall of gloom descended on the East Delhi house of tabla player Nizam Khan on Saturday as grieving relatives arrived to mourn his loss in the terrorist attack in Kabul a day earlier.
“This was my father’s first trip to Afghanistan. He was part of a three-member cultural troupe that was sent by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to give performances in various cities in Afghanistan. When I reached ICCR’s office on Friday evening I was informed about the terrorist attack in Kabul. All those who have orchestrated and perpetrated this gruesome attack are not followers of Islam. They are not even human beings,” Ashu, Mr. Khan’s elder son, said at his West Guru Angad Nagar house here.
“For artistes there are no boundaries as far as giving performances are concerned. Their work entails creating a bond between people of different faiths and countries. This was what my father was striving to achieve,” said Ashu, who works at a call centre in Noida.
He said the cowardly attack against the Indian community had robbed him of his father, the breadwinner of the family. “I will now have to take up the responsibility of supporting my large family that includes a six-year-old younger brother and five young sisters.”
Stating that the Centre must provide a job to one member of Mr. Khan’s beleaguered family, artiste coordinator Santosh Mehta said the only ray of hope could come from the powers-that-be, as they had sent the musician to entertain people in a terrorist-infested country.
“As far as we are concerned Khan has attained martyrdom. A gifted artiste, he was on a mission to entertain people cutting across different faiths. I don’t understand what the Taliban has achieved from this attack. They don’t even spare civilians and are clueless about the meaning of jihad,” he said.
Mr. Mehta, who stayed at the maestro’s home for two years, said he never felt for a moment there that he was from a different faith.
“Nizam Khan was like a brother to me. A magnanimous man, he could never stand the grief of others. At times he used to take out his shirt or shawl and hand them over to rickshaw pullers. He was fond of cooking chicken biryani, koftas and mutton korma. Even though he has left us, the taste of his dishes still lingers in our mouths,” Mr. Mehta said.
The news of her husband’s death in the attack was initially kept a secret from Mobina Begum. “We told her that the bomb attack had only injured her husband. Even the plug of television has been taken out but she has now realised that something is amiss,” said a relative.
“Just when my brother was packing his suitcase at Park Resident guest house on Friday to leave for the airport, the bomb went off. The roof collapsed over him and he died instantly,” Mr. Khan’s brother Moinuddin said.
Son of late Banne Khan, a sarangi player, Mr. Khan was part of a three-member troupe that included his relatives — israj player Allauddin Khan and sarangi player Kushif. Mr. Khan belonged to the Ajrada gharana. A former resident of Suinwalan in the Wall City area, he had the distinction of playing along with famous Hindustani classical vocalists Salamat Ali Khan and Nazakat Ali Khan.
ICCR president Karan Singh has expressed his anguish at Mr. Khan’s death and announced a financial package for the bereaved family.