Pashto folk music queen Zarsanga injured in monetary dispute attack

Azakhel SHO says neighbours attacked the singer and her family over a Rs500,000 dispute

Hidayat Khan July 23, 2017
Zarsanga sustained severe injuries to her face, said her son. PHOTO: TWITTER

PESHAWAR: Pashto folk singer Zarsanga has been admitted to the Nowshera District Headquarters Hospital after she was injured in a scuffle between her sons and neighbours over a monetary dispute on Saturday night.

Hijraan, the aged singer’s son, told The Express Tribune that she suffered severe injuries to her face. He added that they were not being provided proper medication since Saturday night and still were not sure of Zarsanga’s medical condition, who was admitted to the hospital with two other sons and a grandson.

Hijraan also accused police of refusing to register an FIR against the attackers and take action against them.

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According to Hijraan, the family had been staying in Swat, and when they returned to their village in Azakhel on Saturday night, they found it locked from the outside. One of his brothers had delayed the payment of some installments for the past few months, he said.

He alleged that Shabbir and Kherul Bashar, along with a dozen accomplices, ambushed them with sticks after some time and in the scuffle Zarsanga, her two sons and a grandson were injured.

Azakhel SHO Ayeen Khan told The Express Tribune that the attack was motivated by a monetary dispute. He said the folk singer’s sons had bought farm animals from their neighbours and there was a dispute over an amount of Rs500,000. When the family returned from Swat, their neighbours attacked them, he added.

The SHO said they had taken action against the attackers. “We have arrested five people under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” Khan said. "An FIR will be registered once medical reports of the injured individuals are received," he added.

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Zarsanga which means ‘the golden bough’ is regarded as the undeniable queen of Pashto folk music in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Along with her contemporaries like Abdullah Jan, Ahmed Gul Ustad, Ahmed Khan, Qamro Jan, Muzaffar Khan, the late Gulnaar Begum and Khiyal Muhammad, Zarsanga has acquired a lasting popularity, especially after the launch of Radio Centre in Peshawar and then the PTV centre.

zarsanga (picture by tourism corporation, khyber pakhtunkhwa)

Zarsanga has performed across the world. PHOTO: TWITTER

Even at the age of 67 her voice challenges young vocalists to match her in rhythmic frequency. Belonging to a gypsy family, Zarsanga has sung thousands of songs for radio and Pakistan television. She has also sung on stage not only within the country but across the world.

Apart from winning appreciation from public, she has received many awards including the prestigious Pride of Performance and Presidential Award for her contributions to Pashto music and culture. Lok Virsa, the country’s heritage museum, recently named one of its halls after Zarsanga.

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However, despite her immense contribution to Pashto music and culture, Zarsanga like many other folk singers lives in abject poverty in the province. Even though the government has regularly provided her assistance, including a stipend for a year, her financial woes have not ended so much so that in 2013 she put up her awards and medals for sale after being forced to live in a tent for displaced people since her house in Pabbi had been swept away in the 2010 floods.

“She is the only symbol of our folk culture left with us,” said Laiq Zada Laiq, a culture critic and Pashto writer. “Singers of such high calibre are living in such poverty; the government needs to do more for their welfare,” he added.

"Zarsanga’s popularity is not only limited to Pashtuns or Pakistan, she has a stature on an international level. People know about Pashto music through her and such treatment meted to her will stain the image of Pashtuns and the country in the world," Laiq noted.

In a statement, Dr Fouzia Saeed, the executive director of Lok Virsa, condemned the assault on Zarsanga. Saeed appealed to the provincial government to immediately register an FIR against the culprits and to provide protection to the singer.


khan Achkazai | 5 years ago | Reply It was shocking to see her lying with her son on the same bed in an hospital in the Naya KPK which was so dirty and worn out that many ask a question what changes were brought about by the PTI government in the KPK.
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