A Kolkata-based musician and Member of Parliament, Kabir Suman, has opposed Zubin Mehta’s music concert which is scheduled to be held in Srinagar on September 7.
Suman has reportedly said that he felt ashamed that such a concert should take place in a state where 70,000 people are dead, more than 10,000 persons are missing and thousands of women have been raped.
“A Peace Concert Peace for whom? The Kashmiris who are fighting so hard for their right to self-determination and freedom do not need such a concert to get a notion of ‘peace’ through music. As the great German composer Hans Werner Henze observed in his book ‘Musik und Politik’ (Music and Politics): ‘Musik kann auch Knechte schaffen.’ (Music can also create slaves) (sic),” Suman wrote in the letter.
The proposed concert to be held at Shalimar Garden on September 7 has run into rough weather with human rights activists and intellectuals demanding scrapping of the concert. The concert has also been opposed by Kashmir’s separatist leaders.
“Could the famous conductor Zubin Mehta imagine himself conducting a grand orchestra in Treblinka or Dachau extermination camps during the Second World War,” Suman asked.
“The Maestro Zubin Mehta is thinking in terms of Hindus and Muslims! If he would kindly take about half an hour out of his leisure and browse internet, he would surely find the right kind of information on and about Kashmir,” he said in reference to an interview in which Mehta had said that unity between Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir could bring peace to the region.
“As a senior citizen of the Republic of India who respects the Constitution of his country and humbly serves Music I join in the protest against the proposed concert,” he said.
“After demolishing Kashmir’s cultural practices, their music, handicrafts, literature and theatre and strangulating the voice of the Kashmiris, what is the meaning of this concert,” he wondered!
Meanwhile, civil society groups in Kashmir plan to organise an event of their own way to protest the Zubin Mehta concert to be organised in Srinagar on September 7.
Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, the group that is organising the protest concert, has titled the event as Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir (reality of Kashmir), saying that the 1,500 people who will come to watch Zubin Mehta’s concert – Ehsas-e-Kashmir (the feeling of Kashmir) – should get to know the region’s reality before they get the feel of it.
The venue is Lal Chowk Municipal Park, 5 kilometres from Shalimar Bagh, the venue of Ehasas-e-Kashmir.
“There will be a huge presence of foreign media, so this is the best way to show them what is happening in Kashmir,” said Khuram Pervaz, convener of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies. “Before they feel Kashmir, they should know its realities.” Haqeeqat-e Kashmir will be held a few hours before Mehta’s concert at 5 in the evening.
Pervaz said they had kept both participation and invitations open. “We have been contacted by about 15 groups so far. All the participants, including artists, singers, and poets, are Kashmiris,” he said.
He, however, refused to identify the performers, fearing ‘harassment’. The group also plans to organise a photo exhibition at the venue. The protest event is being organised amid protests against Ehsas-e-Kashmir.
A private plane from the German state of Bavaria will be carrying around 100 instruments and same number of musicians. The television rights have been granted to media giants internationally and the show will be live in most Europe. About 1,500 people, including 700 from outside the state, are expected to attend 90-minute concert.