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Even the heavens have wept: Bismillah Khan
Sharat Pradhan in Varanasi | March 12, 2006 01:29 IST
World-renowned shehnai maestro Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan had done a lot of his practice at the 400-year-old Sankat Mochan temple that became the target of Tuesday's twin blasts, which left 20 dead and over 100 injured.
With Varanasi swinging back to normal within 24 hours of the blasts - temples reverberating with the dangling of bells in the same pitch as the echoing 'azan' for Friday prayers from mosques, Bismillah Khan has a reason to smile.
Several big and small social organizations including the powerful student lobby of Benaras Hindu University have not only unequivocally condemned the incident but also demonstrated their assertion for peace and harmony through peace marches in different parts of the city.
Perched on the second floor terrace of his ancestral home in a crowded Varanasi locality, Bismillah Khan is happy that the miscreants have not succeeded in their ultimate design. He has also played several times outside Varanasi's most revered landmark - Kashi Vishwanath temple.
"I have played umpteen times and practiced for hours at the Sankat Mochan temple. It has a very special place for all who have some association with Varanasi," the octogenarian maestro said.
"Those behind the bombing were clearly aiming to disturb the communal harmony of this ancient city; but little did they realize that what they did was seen by all sections of society as an attack on humanity," he pointed out.
"Even the heavens have wept for what was done to vitiate the serenity of this city of Ganga," he remarked, while referring to the incessant showers that continued from morning until the afternoon in Varanasi.
"I am proud of this city, which is anointed by the holy Ganga waters, where there is no distinction between Hindus and Muslims", he said, adding, "For us here, there has always been one God – call Him Allah or Ishwar or Ram."
Khan terms the attack as an 'obvious handiwork of anti-national and anti social element.'
"The manner in which both Hindus and Muslims have stood together at this crucial juncture and have refused to fall into the trap of disruptive forces has once again shown that Varanasi will never allow such forces to ever succeed in their nefarious designs," he adds.