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SRINAGAR: Celebrated conductor Zubin Mehta led the Bavarian State Orchestra in a classical music concert Saturday in Srinagar despite strong objections from Kashmiri leaders.

The heavily guarded event was staged in the sprawling Mughal-era Shalimar Gardens on the banks of picturesque Dal Lake.

“Everybody on the subcontinent will agree with me that this is where it (the concert) should be,” the Mumbai-born Mehta said, referring to the beautiful setting with the Himalayan mountains in the background.

“I have waited and dreamt of this moment,” Mehta, 77, a former director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, told the audience in the bright late afternoon sunshine before taking up his baton.

Mehta, a Parsi, left Mumbai at 18 to study music in Vienna. He had said he fell in love with scenic Kashmir on a visit with his family in the 1970s.

“Music is the only language I know and I hope to spread the message of peace with this performance,” Mehta said.

Some 1,500 guests, including government ministers and diplomats, listened raptly to strains of Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky at the concert by organised by state tourism department of Indian Administered Kashmir and the German embassy in New Delhi.

While the Shalimar Gardens event was an invitation-only affair, Mehta said he hoped to return to Kashmir and give a concert where “everybody can come”.

The concert , named “Ehsaas-e-Kashmir” or “Feelings for Kashmir”, was televised around the world.

It went ahead despite demands by Hurriyat leader for its cancellation on grounds it would legitimise alleged Indian “state repression.”

The concert was staged against the backdrop of a rise in bloodshed in the Muslim-majority territory in recent weeks.

There also have been incidents of ceasefire violations along the contested border between Indian and Pakistani forces.

Police said four men were shot dead earlier Saturday in Shopian town by troops.

Indian media said the men were suspected of attempting to attack a security camp but officials would not comment on the reports.

Residents described the men as civilians who were shot by troops as they rode past the security camp on a motorcycle.

Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah told the concert audience that Kashmir was a “troubled” land “yearning for peace”.

“But for a few hours let us allow the music to lift our spirits and dream of a peaceful tomorrow,” Abdullah said.

Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Gilani called a strike Saturday to protest the concert. Shops, businesses and colleges closed in several cities in Indian administered Kashmir.

A little-known rebel group threatened to “target foreign tourists” if the concert went ahead, local media reported.

Extra checkpoints were set up throughout Srinagar and police sealed all routes to the concert as part of the security.

A parallel concert of Kashmiri music called the “Reality of Kashmir” was staged by civil society activists to highlight alleged rights violations by security forces.

As the audience exited from that concert, they shouted anti-India slogans and police used a water cannon to disperse them.

A police spokesman told AFP police used “limited force” because they feared a “law and order problem”.

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Comments (14) Closed

Rashid Sultan
Sep 08, 2013 01:31pm

Syria would be a good place to go for those who want to give vent to their aggression.

raw is war
Sep 08, 2013 03:55pm

victory for peace.

Sep 08, 2013 04:00pm

How can we sleep while our beds are burning but if it is cruel, you know that music should be so beautiful? It has the beauty of loneliness of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony.

muhamma dzauq
Sep 08, 2013 04:14pm

shame on ind with 800000 troops deployed to oppress UN as well ind accepted right of self determination to the Kashmiris. Ind state terrorism cannot last long.

Sep 08, 2013 06:06pm

All music western, eastern , northern or anything is a beautiful creation of mind and has the ability of healing , soothing and finally raising one's soul to exalted plane.

Western classic music is one of the finest expression of western civillization and one should not miss it if one has the opportunity.

Rao, Canada

Sep 08, 2013 06:24pm

By trying to disturb peaceful concerts Hurriat and its leaders make it no secret whose interests they serve. People in Kashmir want peace and they are fed up with Hurriat and its mentors who lose no opportunity to vitiate atmosphere in Kashmir to keep the pot boiling.

Sep 08, 2013 08:06pm

I watched the concert on my TV, from Canada.

It was a great performance by a trully amazing orchestra. The perfect melding of Kashmiri and western music instruments to beautiful kashmiri melodies was really heart warming and was done with such perfection with practically two conductors, was a sight to remember.

It was done for peace for the region. Allow for peace to come to this heaven on earth.
Sep 08, 2013 09:51pm

shame Mehta, you want to heal the wounded people with your music, senseless.

Sep 08, 2013 10:36pm

kashmiris must become peaceful, or else another few lakhs of them will die and no one will shed a tear for them. be realistic, there is no other way.

Sep 08, 2013 11:24pm

@Rao: Rubbish! Cultures define music. Srinagar is not Berlin or Vienna! Kashmiris, who are unaccostomed to the western culture cannot possibly appreciate Mehta's conducting Bavarian State Orchestra. Just see who was in the audience--western educated Indians or diplomats and other westerners! This was a propaganda par excellence! And lets not try to explain away with "beautiful creation of mind" bit!

Sep 09, 2013 12:28am

@Rashid Sultan: so true!!

Sep 09, 2013 02:45am

Why are we behind India!!!!we should think about our country first rather than publishing their news.......

Sep 09, 2013 04:35am

@muhamma dzauq: it has lasted for many years and will last forever

anand singh
Sep 09, 2013 07:25am

When will Pak realise the futility of its actions ?

Its causing more harm to itself than anyone else.