A day after widespread social media outrage over a viral video of qawwal Rahat Fateh Ali Khan violently beating a person in his employ over a missing “bottle”, the singer has claimed that the bottle in question contained water blessed by a pir, or spiritual leader and that the incident was solely between him and his student.
The video, which appeared to be taken secretly, showed Khan slapping and punching a man while demanding to know the location of his “bottle”. At one point, Khan yanked him by the hair and tossed him to the ground in anger, violently attacking him.
A series of videos were posted on Khan’s official Instagram page on Saturday night in which he identified the victim of the assault as Naveed Hasnain, a student of his. He claimed the bottle contained blessed water.
Addressing the video, Khan said it was a private issue between a teacher and a student. Identifying the student and his father, he said, “The relationship between a teacher and student is such that when he does well, we give him that much love and when he does wrong, we punish him”.
Hasnain said the bottle contained water blessed by a spiritual leader and that he had forgotten where he put it at the time. “God only knows how much love he [Khan] shows us,” he said, calling the video an attempt to blackmail and defame his teacher.
He denied that the incident was an incident of abuse. Khan claimed that he asked for Hasnain’s forgiveness then and there after beating him up.
Hasnain’s father then narrated an incident about another famous qawwal cutting his hair at the behest of his teacher and said it illustrated the respect they have for their teachers in the qawwal world. “Ustaads may hit them but in our view, this isn’t violence. This comes with the job,” he said.
Khan also addressed claims that he abused his employees by shifting the camera to his driver, whom he said had been working for him for 40 years. The driver dutifully said that he had never been hit or yelled at by Khan and said he was treated like a “big brother” by him and the rest of his family.
Khan then said he would go on the record apologising to Hasnain once again — though he did not actually apologise on camera. “He’s my teacher, he’s like my father, fathers hit their sons and it’s not a big deal,” Hasnain said in response.
“People spreading false information that I abuse people should look to themselves and see how cruel they are,” Khan said. Three more videos were posted to his official page, all reiterating the same thing, with Hasnain disavowing that the violence enacted against him was a problem and claiming this was an attempt to “blackmail” Khan.
Meanwhile, social media is awash with outrage over the original video and the series of reactionary videos posted by Khan. People are horrified at the violence in the first video and the lack of apology or remorse in the second.
People were also disturbed by the justification that the violence was okay since it was being enacted by a teacher on a student. Violence is never okay.