Politics of music

Opposition of Kashmiri separatists and some other groups in the state to the proposed concert of Zubin Mehta at the historic Mughal Garden of Shalimar Bagh near Srinagar is on wrong and flimsy grounds. The concert, Ehsas-e-Kashmir, is organised by the German embassy in New Delhi and is scheduled for September 7.

India-born Zubin Mehta is a world renowned musician who lives in Germany and heads the Bavarian state orchestra. Any place or people should be happy to host a performance by a master like Zubin Mehta. The separatists have unfortunately chosen to look at it as an imposition of the Indian government and an attempt to offend the Kashmiris and misrepresent the situation in the state.

The objections of the hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and militant organisations like the women’s outfit Dukhtarran-e-Millet were to be expected because they have opposed any people’s or official initiative to reach out to the people of the state. The Dukhtarran has even found an Israeli link for the programme. Their argument is that a music concert in the state, which is ‘’under occupation’’ would send out to the world the signal that the situation in the state is normal. The grand mufti of Kashmir,  Ahmad Bashiruddin, who had earlier this year banned an all-girl music group from performing,  the moderate section of the Hurriyat and some others have also supported the position. Music is needlessly and unjustifiably mixed with politics and a controversy is sought to be created where these is no objectionable issue of public import.  Kashmir has a long and proud heritage of music, literature  and other arts and to oppose the holding of an important cultural event in the state goes against its own traditions.

The German embassy has said that it plans to go ahead with the programme and the government will extend the necessary support. In spite of opposition from Hurriyat leaders and others, there have been voices of support from within the state for the concert. A musical performance of any kind does not change the political status of Kashmir or even make any statement about it. It is difficult to see how it can change any perceptions too.  The German embassy does not have any special interest in the politics of the state. Those who oppose the concert do so unreasonably and unconvincingly and  are only exposing themselves to ridicule.

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