Eminent artistes will appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation’s directive to the Ministry of Urban Development to initiate proceedings to get them evicted from government accommodations.
The CCA has asked the ministry to evict artistes like Birju Maharaj, Bhajan Sopori, Jatin Das, Raja Reddy, Sabri Khan, Gulam Sadiq Khan etc, who have been staying in government flats for many years. Sources said these flats had been allotted for three years to them in the age group of 40-60 years, whose monthly income was less than Rs 20,000. The flats are in prime areas like Shahjahan Road, the Asian Games Village and Lodhi Colony. Sabri Khan, the veteran Sarangi artiste, told The Sunday Guardian: “We artistes have served Indian music and spread it across the world. If the government evicts us, what will be our value? We haven’t received any official letter yet. But if the government goes ahead with its move, we will give a representation to the government to provide us relief. We will also meet the PM.”
While Birju Maharaj has been living in his Shahjahan Road flat for 36 years, Jatin Das has been living in an Asian Games Village flat for 26 years and Raja Reddy in his Kaka Nagar flat for 21 years.
The Ministry of Urban Development has been asked to issue notices to the occupants seeking details of their income and whether they owned other houses in Delhi or NCR. The Ministry of Culture has been asked to review each case and inform the Ministry of Urban Development on who all should be evicted
for “violating” allotment norms. In three cases, families of artistes are still residing in flats after their death. They are Ustad Vilayat Khan (Sitar), Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar (Dhrupad) and Asad Ali Khan (Rudra Veena).
Santoor artiste Bhajan Sopori said if the government evicts artistes, it will be an insult to them. “In case of Vilayat Khan’s flat, the government should continue giving the facility to his widow. She is old and it will be difficult for her to move in this age.” Birju Maharaj could not be contacted. His disciple Saswati Sen said she would not comment as the artiste has not received any formal communication. Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma could not be contacted.