Zubin Mehta concert Music vs fanatics in Kashmir
As September 7 approaches, one big question on every music lovers’ mind – whether the planned Zubin Mehta concert here will go ahead?
The concert, ‘Ehsaas-e-Kashmir’ (the feel of Kashmir), has been opposed by many quarters, including separatist leaders. The pretext – an international event like this would tend to give legitimacy to “Indian rule” in Kashmir.
The controversy is bizarre, especially in Kashmir which has been a land of poets, singers and musicians for ages.
The 90-minute concert of the Bavarian State Orchestra, which would be telecast live in over 50 countries and conducted by the India-born and world-renowned Zubin Mehta, is being organised by the German Embassy. It will be held at the famous Shalimar Garden on the banks of the Dal Lake.
On Tuesday, German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner reviewed the progress of the preparations and appeared satisfied. But, on being asked, he refused to comment on the controversies surrounding the grand event.
Among those opposing the concert are prominent separatist leaders, the local Grand Mufti and civil society members.
While hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani sees the event as an attempt to give legitimacy to “Indian rule” in Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq of the moderate Hurriyat group believes the money should instead be spent on education, healthcare and other needs of the Kashmiri people.
Grand Mufti Basher-ud-Din, who is not new to controversies, echoes Geelani’s views. He says holding the concert in a “disputed land would convey a wrong signal internationally… (that) Kashmiris have enough prosperity and leisure to attend an event like this”.
Some civil society members have also opposed the event: “Germany must accept the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and recognise the pain and legitimate political and legal struggle of its people.”
The government, on the other hand, is adamant on holding the concert. Government sources said calling off the event would send out a disturbing signal.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too has made his views clear. He said: “Everyone has political views but music is in our culture. To present it (music) as outside Kashmiriyat is not right.”
In response, Geelani has called for a complete shutdown in the Kashmir Valley on September 7.
It remains to be seen who wins in the end – music or its opponents.