Renowned Seraiki folk singer from Cholistan Krishan Lal Bheel passed away in Rahim Yar Khan on Thursday after suffering from kidney disease. He was 60.

According to his family sources, the singer was hospitalised five days ago as he was suffering from serious kidney complications.

He had received the President’s Pride of Performance Award and was a constant feature in Lok Mela at the Lok Virsa, Islamabad, Rafi Peer Mystic Music Sufi Festival, Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and Alhamra Arts Council. He had performed in many countries of the world.

Bheel mostly sang in his native language Marwari dialect of Rajasthani but he was also fluent in Hindi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Urdu and Seraiki as well.He started singing in the 1970s.

Quoting an interview with Krishan Lal Bheel, Dr Fozia Saeed writes in her booklet on Bhil Community and Folklore Society that his father was against his singing.

“At first his father came to know (about his singing) when in 1978 he performed on the Radio Station in Bahawalpur and people of his community listened him and told to his father. His father was angry with him but with the passage of time as much he got popularity, people started respecting him and his family agreed (sic).”

Rafi Peer Theatre Festival Creative Director Saadan Pirzada said no edition of the Rafi Peer Mystic Music Sufi Festival could be complete without him.

He said Krishan Lal, who belonged to the Hindu community of the Bheels, was not well for the last three months. He was suffering from multiple medical complications such as kidney issues. He had an attack of paralysis also and was on dialysis. He breathed his last at a hospital at around 3am on Thursday and his last rites were performed on the outskirts of Rahim Yar Khan the same day.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has expressed a deep sense of sorrow over the death of Bheel and extended sympathies to the bereaved family. He said Bheel enjoyed a prominent place in folk singing and his services would always be remembered.

According to a press release by the National History and Literary Heritage Division, Federal Minister for Education, National Heritage and Culture Shafqat Mehmood expressed his sorrow over the death of Bheel. He called his family, talked to his brother, Sukhdev, and inquired about Bheel’s two children, Shambu Lal and Shubna Devi.

Krishan Lal Bheel had a unique voice and was considered an embodiment of the musical traditions of Cholistan and received scores of awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Lok Virsa.

Shafqat Mahmood offered Rs500,000 for the children of the late singer and his team of musicians and dancers.

“With Krishan Lal gone, who represented his area so well, we have to ensure that we continue to recognise the rich musical heritage of Cholistan, among many other rich traditions of Pakistan,” the minister said.

Bheel was under treatment for his kidney disease at the Shaikh Zayed Hospital in Rahim Yar Khan where he was looked after well. Recently, he was discharged from the hospital but had to be brought back to the hospital some days back.

His family members claimed that the singer had appealed to the government many times to restore his monthly financial assistance as he and his fellow artistes had dedicated their lives in promoting art and culture of Pakistan.

Bheel’s wife also used to perform with him.

Originally published in Dawn, May 8th, 2020

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