New Delhi, May 7 (IANS, UNI) - With the government permission obtained now, nonagenarian shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan will fulfil his 'last wish' of performing at the India Gate here, with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar in attendance.The 'Meri Antim Abhilasha (My last wish) - Tune India Shehnai concert' is being performed by the Bharat Ratna recipient on July 15 to pay tribute to the unsung heroes of World War I and for global peace and communal harmony.'We have requested Lataji, who was awarded the nation's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna along with Ustad Bismillah Khan on 25th January, 2001, to grace the occasion,' said journalist Shivnath Jha, who along with his wife Neena is organising the event.'It was Bismillah Khan's heartfelt desire to play the shehnai at the India Gate before he takes his last breath. He repeated his desire on his 91st birthday this year. We had assured him that it would be fulfilled and finally we got the nod from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs,' said Jha.Incidentally, the India Gate - a war memorial built to pay tribute to Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Afghan wars - completes 75 years in 2006.Bismillah Khan had played the shehnai from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Aug 15, 1947, when India gained independence from British rule, said the couple who have also initiated 'Bismillah: The Beginning' movement to help the nonagenarian musician.The couple said they would meet Lata Mangeshkar personally and invite her for the event. 'We are confident that she will not reject our plea as she has a more than 60-year association with Ustad Bismillah Khan and treats him like a brother,' Jha said.Since his performance at the Red Fort, when he was in his 30s, almost 60 years have elapsed.According to the Jhas, on April 28 Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal called on the maestro at his abode in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, to invite him to perform at the India Gate.The invitation left Bismillah Khan elated. 'Ab to mein India Gate par shehnai bajaunga. Hindustan meri hai, India Gate hamara hai (Now I shall play at the India Gate, India is mine, India Gate is ours,' an emotional Bismillah Khan said, according to the Jha couple.The couple has brought out a monograph on the maestro to help him financiallThe ailing maestro is mostly confined to his modest house in Varanasi and his performances have become rare. He is not able to stand with his advanced age and has to be taken around in a wheel chair, said Neena Jha.'More than 5,000 people, including from other countries, are expected to attend the function,' she said. The couple has received e-mail enquiries from the US and Britain about the function.While Neena is a teacher, her husband is a journalist with Sahara Times, an English weekly newspaper.


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