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Padma Shri recipient bhajan singer Ramzan Khan & son Firoze

January 27, 2020 05:17 AM

Among Padma awardees, father of BHU prof who faced protests


Sixty-one-year-old bhajan singer Ramzan Khan is yet to soak in the happiness and honour that a Padma Shri award has brought with it. Ever since his son Firoze Khan got embroiled in a controversy over his appointment as an assistant professor of Sanskrit at Benaras Hindu University two months ago, the family has been living in fear. The Padma Shri has helped ease the tension a bit, and brought some cheer to them.

Soon after joining BHU’s Sanskrit department, Firoze had faced the ire of right-wing protesters who launched a four-day dharna (sit-in protest) on November 7, 2019, demanding his removal for being a Muslim. Firoze resigned on December 9 and joined the varsity’s arts department.

The official press release of the recipients of the accolade identifies Munna Master Bhajan Gayak — as Ramzan is popularly known — as a bhajan singer from a traditional Muslim family of Bagru in Jaipur. The sexagenarian has been carrying forward the family legacy of singing Ram-Krishna bhajans in temples for a living.

He has also authored a book, ‘Shri Shyam Surabhi Vandana’, which contains bhajans praising Lord Krishna, Ram, Vishnu and Shiva. Ramzan is also known for his love of cows. Every day, he takes out time from his busy schedule to visit cow shelters for feeding and taking care of the animals.

courtesy THE TIMES OF INDIA JAN 27Padma Shri recipient bhajan singer Ramzan Khan & son Firoze

Taken aback on knowing about Padma award: Singer’s son

I was taken aback (on announcement of Padma Shri award) for a few minutes and after confirming from different news sources several times over, I broke the news to my father (Ramzan Khan). He took some time to digest the news, before saying that singing bhajans was his source of income and he never thought this would help him achieve such an honour,” an elated Firoze told TOI over the phone from the BHU campus, adding that he first heard of the news from a friend around 9pm on Saturday. “We thank Allah for the izzat afzai (fame).”

TOI tried reaching out to Ramzan but his phone was switched off. His younger son, Shakil, informed that his father had gone for a Bhajan Sandhya Jagran. “My father will not return before early morning,” said Shakil, while adding that his phone has been flooded with calls and messages from family, friends and the media. Shakil, however, clarified that they are yet to receive an official communication either from the central or the state government. “Neither Firoze bhaijaan nor my father have received any official confirmation. I hope this is real,” he said.

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