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When Pakistani intelligence official snooped on Jagjit Singh

PTI 18 Oct 2015, 22:29:46 IST

New Delhi: Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh drew huge crowds in Pakistan during his maiden trip to the country in 1979 even as he remained under surveillance by a Pakistani intelligence official, who incidentally turned out to be a fan, according to a new book on the late singer.

The incident finds mention in Baat Niklegi Toh Phir   The Life and Music of Jagjit Singh, authored by Sathya Saran and published by HarperCollins.

"The political situation when we went (to Pakistan) was not very calm, we could sense a tension. When we landed we noticed a man getting into the aircraft and just standing there. We saw him again and again. He followed us out of the airport and we saw him again in the hotel. It was unnerving.

"The room bell rang. Jagjit opened the door, and he was outside. He entered. Jagjit asked him in Punjabi, 'Are you following us?'" the book quotes Chitra Singh, wife of Jagjit Singh, as saying.

"Explaining that he was from the Intelligence Department, he with utmost care, drew from inside his jacket a bottle wrapped in newspaper; he had brought alcohol as a gift since the hotel served none," says Ms. Chitra.

The book further quotes Ms. Chitra saying that Pakistan had banned them from giving any performances but they had accepted a private invitation from the Press Club, where they sang to a full house.

Read Also: My Mumbai visit was to commemorate Jagjit Singh's death anniversary: Ghulam Ali

The next day they visited Shankar Dayal Sharma's residence, who was at that time Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, for a private concert and what followed was a flood of invitations for the duo to perform.

Ms. Chitra recalls that it was only after they showed the notice issued to them by Pakistan government, which allowed them a stay only till 20 February that they were spared of any further requests to perform.

In 1990, when Jagjit revisited Pakistan, this time without his wife, he met former President Pervez Musharraf, at his residence there.

The book recounts a jugalbandi between the musical maestro and Mr. Musharraf with the latter playing the tabla.

With his music, Jagjit had earned admiration among people in the neighbouring country, captivating among others its entire cricket team.

"He took Baboo (Jagjit's son) to the hotel where the Pakistan cricket team was staying during a tour in the early 1980s, so that he could get all their autographs. The entire team took turns to touch the singer's feet. He had the knack of making every single person think he was singing solely for him," the book quotes Kartar Singh, the youngest of Jagjit's siblings.