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Zubin recreates magic in Valley

Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar, Sep 7, 2013, DHNS: 2:02 IST

Parallel concert showed plays by young boys

Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta (C) speaks during the Ehasas-e-Kashmir concert at Shalimar Garden on the outskirts of Srinagar September 7, 2013. The event was 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'. REUTERS
Music conductor Zubin Mehta (77) left the audience enthralled with his craft at the “Ehsaas-e-Kashmir” concert in the 400-year-old Mughal Gardens here on Saturday. The concert was vehemently opposed by separatists in the Valley.

The audience was mesmerised by the musical finesse of Mehta and Abhay Rustum Sopori’s troupe, equipped with Kashmiri instruments.

The event presented a fusion of Kashmiri folk tunes and Western Classical music to a cheering audience at the packed venue.

Barely 10 km from Mughal Gardens, at S K Park, a civil society group organised a parallel event titled “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir” to counter the government’s extravaganza. A play staged by two young boys left the audience misty-eyed.

The play reflected the miseries of the people of Kashmir in the last 22 years, lives which revolved around missing people, unmarked graves, fake encounters and much more.
Initially, the organisers were not sure whether the authorities would allow the programme.

However, banners with soul-stirring pictures of the dead and atrocities by the security forces, which were already on display, had attracted the attention of the foreign media.
It was 2 pm when the civil society members were allowed to erect a stage. Volunteers made all necessary arrangements in two and a half hours.

Meanwhile, Zubin Mehta and his Bavarian State Orchestra played Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to the 2,000 guests.

Before starting the performance, Mehta said: “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. After having involved in such activities all over the world, I am extremely proud to finally make music in my beloved Kashmir.”

The high-profile event was telecast live by Doordarshan for the first time in Hi-Definition format.

German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also addressed the audience before the concert. Steiner said: “German and European cultural heritage bows to Kashmir, to its heritage, its beauty and its difficult realities and yearnings. Today, with this event, a distance of 7,076 km between Munich and Srinagar has been reduced to zero.”

Elaborate security arrangements were in place to avoid any untoward incident. Twelve companies of CRPF were deployed in and around the venue. The authorities also sealed the famous Boulevard Road along the banks of Dal lake.

Life across Kashmir was hit. Following a call from separatist groups opposing Mehta’s concert, shops, banks, schools and most government offices remained closed.

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