India-born conductor Zubin Mehta’s highly anticipated ‘peace’ concert started in Srinagar’s Shalimar Bagh amid heavy security was organized on Saturday. Called ‘Ehsaas-e-Kashmir’, the event, a first of its kind in Kashmir, has been organized by German ambassador to India Michael Steiner.
“I have waited for this moment for a long time. There are those we have hurt inadvertently. I promise next time we shall do this with everyone in a stadium where everyone can come, so it won’t be a select few. When the music starts, a positive wave goes from this stage everywhere,” Mehta said before his performance.
The concert hit a controversial note with Kashmiri separatists calling it an attempt to digress from the human rights violations in the state. The separatists held a total shutdown of Srinagar in protest.
77-year-old Mr Mehta reached out to the separatists yesterday, saying, “I didn’t choose Kashmir, Kashmir chose me. Music is the message of peace, and music only brings peace.”
Accusing the separatists of hypocrisy, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, “These (separatists) people are selective. If music is against the issue of Kashmir, how come Junoon came and performed here,” said
Abdullah. ‘Junoon’, a Pakistani band had performed in the city in May2008.
Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the youngsters must decide upon the nature and purpose of the event after hearing Mehta’s music. “I pray and urge and appeal to all young people that they should pause and listen to his music, listen to what his music has to say and then make up their minds,” said Khurshid.
A counter concert, called Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir to highlight, what its organizers say, the turmoil of the people over the last two decades, is also being held, 10 km away from the Zubin Mehta concert.