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Thursday, September 7, 2000

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Nazia Hassan finally laid to rest

London, September 7: Nazia Hassan, 36, Pakistani pop diva of the seventies, was buried on Tuesday, more than three weeks after her death from cancer. Hassan, who took India by storm with iAap Jaisa Koi for Feroz Khan's Qurbani film, became the pioneer of South Asian pop along with her brother Zoheb, now 37. The brother and sister double act hit the big time with their album, Disco Deewane, produced by music director Biddu under the HMV (India) label.

Hassan was buried in London, where she and her brother Zoheb were brought up.Apart from her family, the funeral was attended notables from the Pakistani expatriate community, including Pakistan's former caretaker Prime Minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and former High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamshul Hassan.

She leaves a troubled legacy and an undecided future for her three-year-old son Arez. An unsuccessful marriage and the attendant tensions were the primary reasons for the delay in her burial. Her parents Muniza and Basheer Hassan and her former husband, Ishtiaq Beg (the divorce is believed to have been finalised only weeks before her death on August 13) disagreed over which of them had a right to bury her, leading to several weeks of legal wrangling over whom her body should be handed over to.

The situation was complicated, almost like in the Hindi films she sang for, by a sworn statement that Nazia Hassan is alleged to have left with her lawyers, stating that she was being poisoned. The investigation into these allegations has been completed. The findings, which are not expected to bear out the allegations, will be presented at an inquest, the date for which is yet to be set.

Hassan's family clearly blames Beg for her death. Her brother Zoheb told reporters in London that the ``great pressures'' of her marriage had taken their toll. ``To be honest, Nazia was such a fighter we all thought it (the cancer) would never get the better of her. She married the wrong man and I am convinced it has cost her life. It was unfortunately an example of an arranged marriage going wrong.''

Hassan is also said to have left instructions in her will to have her son brought up by her parents, and not by her former husband. Rumours in the last few weeks about the state of their marriage included allegations, apparently made by Hassan, that Beg had entered into a marriage with Pakistani actress, and star of Raj Kapoor's Henna, Zeba Bakhtiar.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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