India Zubin Mehta's Concert Hits A Controversial Note In Kashmir


The venue of Zubin Mehta's Saturday concert is the spectacular 15th Century Shalimar Gardens, which has the Himalayan mountains as its backdrop. The garden has not looked so glorious in recent years - huge yellow marigolds, chrysanthemums, dahlias and other flowers line the pathways on which the guests will walk to hear the maestro perform Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.

Mr Mehta has described the concert - named Ehsaas-e-Kashmir or Feelings for Kashmir - as "a dream come true".

An Indian-born Parsi, he will be accompanied by the Bavarian State Orchestra and 1,500 people have been invited, including government ministers and diplomats, and the performance is being broadcast live in more than 50 countries around the world. The event is being hosted by the German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, and is supported by the governments in Kashmir and Delhi.

But Kashmiri separatists and activists say they do not want the event to take place in Kashmir.

"Here people are suffering and dying. We're oppressed by the Indian armed forces and the police. In such a situation, a music programme has no justification or relevance," veteran separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, told the BBC.

Hurriyat conference leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called a day-long strike on Saturday to protest against the event. Some Kashmiri rights activists have announced a parallel concert - Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir or Reality of Kashmir - a few hours before Mr Mehta takes stage to counter his performance.

The German embassy says that in the months leading up to the concert, the ambassador met and consulted a large number of people in Kashmir to make it an "inclusive event". And in an open letter to Kashmiris, which was released to some Kashmiri newspapers, Mr Steiner defended the event.

"This concert has the potential to make the world look at the complex realities of Kahsmir: its breathtaking beauty as well as the many challenges you, the Kashmiris, face in daily life. I am well aware of the both," he wrote.



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I'm not exactly sure why, but this article makes me think of Nero fiddling while Rome burned :mundaviolin: or possibly of Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake." :interestedkudi: