Zubin Mehta-Led Concert in Disputed Kashmir Spurs Massive Security

Muslim Independence Fighters Vow To Prevent Show

Garden Spot: The German ambassador to India tours site of planned concert led by famed conductor Zubin Mehta in the disputed Kashmir region.
getty images
Garden Spot: The German ambassador to India tours site of planned concert led by famed conductor Zubin Mehta in the disputed Kashmir region.

By Reuters

Published September 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A planned concert by the Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta in Indian-controlled Kashmir has angered separatist groups in the disputed Himalayan region, and security forces are mounting a major operation to keep the visitors safe.

The concert, the first of its kind in Kashmir, is expected to attract an audience of 1,500 guests on Saturday, including government ministers and diplomats. It will be held in a Mughal-era terraced garden on the banks of the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.

The event has been organised by Germany’s ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, who told a news conference that the aim of the concert was to “reach the hearts of the Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement”.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. Separatists say that holding the concert on the Indian side effectively legitimises New Delhi’s rule.

It takes place against a backdrop of an upsurge in violence in the Kashmir valley. Militants have staged a number of attacks against Indian security forces in and around Srinagar in recent months. Militants struck an army convoy in June, a day before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was due to visit the area, killing eight soldiers.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, one of the most highly militarised regions in the world. Soldiers on the disputed border regularly trade mortar and machinegun fire. About 700,000 Indian troops, paramilitary forces and police are stationed in Jammu and Kashmir state.

Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a general strike in the region on Saturday to protest what he says is Indian occupation of the disputed territory.

“The majority of people here are suffering from state repression. Under these circumstances there is no relevance for a music programme,” he said.

A little-known militant group, which has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, has threatened to attack tourists if the concert goes ahead.

“We will not allow the orchestra of Zubin Mehta to perform in Shalimar Garden. If the German Ambassador remains adamant on holding the event, we will target foreign tourists for which the diplomat shall be responsible,” Sami-ul-Haq, a spokesman for Al Nasireen, Farzandaan-e-Millat and Shuhda (Martyrs’) Brigade, said in a faxed statement to local media.

The Germany embassy was not immediately available for comment.

SPECIAL SECURITY MEASURES

Inspector-General of police in Kashmir A.G. Mir said security forces were trying to find out if the threat “is for real or some kind of mischief”.

“But adequate security measures are in place for the concert,” he stressed.

As the orchestra plays pieces by Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky, speedboats will patrol the lake and security forces will set up a security cordon two miles from the event. Only guests with special passes will be able to enter the area after being frisked and scanned by metal detectors.

“It is the biggest ever security exercise for us. Around 1,500-2,000 guests including ambassadors of European countries, central ministers and bureaucrats are arriving here for the concert,” said a senior security official who declined to be named.

The concert will be broadcast live by television channels in India and Europe, the German Embassy said in a statement.

“In the months ahead of the concert, Ambassador Steiner has talked to Kashmiris from all walks of life to make the concert an inclusive event,” it said.

Indian-born Mehta, 77, has conducted thousands of concerts during his long career. He has worked with the Israel, Vienna, and Berlin philharmonic orchestras and was the music director of the New York Philharmonic for 13 years.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.