Couple worried about fate of Afghan music students

Classical musician couple worried about fate of instrumental music students in Afghanistan

The couple had been associated with the Afghan government-run institute of instrumental music – Afghanistan National Institute of Music – from 2012 till October 2019

The classicist said he had been told by the institute director the other day that he wishes all the music teachers and students can leave Kabul. Credit: Reuters Fle Photo

Classical Indian music instrumentalist couple Pt Abhishek Adhikari and Dr Murchana Adhikary Barthakur, who taught sitar and sarod to their students in Afghanistan, are now living with worries for their students after the Taliban take over of the country and the deadly explosion at Kabul Airport.

They are in touch with some of their Afghan students through Facebook messenger.

The couple had been associated with the Afghan government-run institute of instrumental music – Afghanistan National Institute of Music – from 2012 till October 2019 and afterwards quit the institute and returned to India.

They were reverentially addressed, as Ustad Abhishek and Ustad Murchana in Afghanistan.

After 2019 at personal initiative the duo continued to impart online music classes to eager female and male students in Kabul till things came to a standstill due to the Taliban take over in mid-August.

Pt Abhishek told PTI from somewhere in north India, "our students are scared to practice or listen to music as Taliban is against music. Secretly few of my students, living in the same neighbourhood, gathered at one's residence to listen to Indian classical music audio kept with them. They did that after closing the door and windows and ensuring not a single decibel goes out."

Read | A celebrated Afghan school fears Taliban will stop music

"As they informed me about this I asked them to be always careful about their life and safety," the affable music teacher couple who had been visiting the Kabul Institute twice a year from 2012 and shifted there in 2015, till the 2019 departure, said.

He stated that he had been trying to contact his students after hearing about the deadly airport blast on Thursday and said his worries have increased about the safety and well-being of well-wishers and friends based there.

"Till now my students are safe. I had immediately contacted them after getting to know about the blast at Kabul Airport. But I am trying to get more updates," he informed.

The classicist said he had been told by the institute director the other day that he wishes all the music teachers and students can leave Kabul, but that seems to be fraught with uncertainty currently as the Taliban doesn't want Afghan nationals to leave.

When they took over Kabul this time, the Taliban initially claimed they would not do any harm to artistes and professionals, that they would not prevent women from carrying on with their professions. They would not take away personal liberty, he said.

However, going by the reports pouring in from there in the past few days, "it seems even if there are moderate voices in the militia, that has been taken over by the hardliners who strictly believe that music and art should not be practiced and women should live indoors," he added.

The couple used to go to Afghanistan as guest teachers twice a year from 2012 to 2015. From 2015 to September 22, 2019 they were there as permanent Sitar and Sarod faculty.

The institute had around 350 students interested in Indian classical instrumentals.

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