Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan’s house, which was being demolished to give way to a commercial complex, has been stopped, the Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) said.

A team of VDA comprising zonal officer and junior engineer had visited the maestro’s house in the Hadaha Sarai locality last week after it came to light that a family member has started the demolition for commercial gain.

The demolition activity were stopped amid calls for conservation of the house as a ‘national cultural heritage’.

According to the VDA inspection report, the room on the second floor was demolished by Mohammad Shiftain, the grandson of the legendary musician and son of late Mehtab Hussain. Presently, Shiftain resides in the house.

It also came to light that there was a property dispute among the family members. Bismillah Khan had five sons.

“Since it is a case of a private property, the VDA team verbally, and through notice, directed the family members to get permission from the municipal corporation as per rule for the demolition of the building if it is in a dilapidated condition. They were also directed to get the map approved from the VDA before starting any new construction,” said a senior VDA official.

The upper floor of the maestro’s house, where he lived, was demolished by his kin to develop the house as a commercial complex. Some other members of the family raised objections to it.

As the news of the demolition spread, several youth organisations staged protests and asked the government and the cultural ministry to save the house and preserve it as a museum.

In a joint press statement, the state secretary of All India Democratic Student Organisation (AIDSO) Dilip Kumar, state secretary of All India Democratic Youth Organisation (AIDYO) Makardhwaj and state secretary of All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan (AIMSS) Vandana Singh demanded that the Central and state governments should protect the house.

“It should be developed as a shehnai training centre and the family members should be rehabilitated somewhere else and given financial assistance,” they said.

Bismillah Khan’s foster daughter and singer Soma Ghosh and Congress leader Ajay Rai also demanded government’s intervention. saying that the government should come forward to conserve his house as a museum.