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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

Big B, Ambanis, Tharoor, Wadia and more among Zubin show invitees

IANS  Srinagar, September 06, 2013
First Published: 16:50 IST(6/9/2013) | Last Updated: 16:53 IST(6/9/2013)

Diplomats, corporate magnates, film stars, law makers, civil servants and politicians are on the list of 1,500 invitees to Saturday's Zubin Mehta show.

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The list of invitees is a virtual who's who of movers and shakers.

Union ministers, ambassadors of European countries, Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir, industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, actors Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, state government ministers, legislators, top bureaucrats and military officers and select journalists are among those invited to the concert, to be held in 17th century Shalimar Garden laid during the reign of Mughal ruler Jahangir on the banks of the Dal Lake.

Also on the list are Bombay Dyeing chairman Nusli Wadia and union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor and his spouse Sunanda. The “Ehsas-e-Kashmir" (Feel of Kashmir) concert is being jointly organised by the German embassy and the 'Incredible India' campaign of the union tourism ministry, with assistance from the state tourism department.

The 90-minute concert that will be telecast live in 104 countries will start 5pm All roads to the venue will be sealed Friday afternoon, and a high security alert has been sounded. Some lesser known guerrilla groups have threatened to target foreigners visiting Kashmir if the authorities went ahead with the concert.

"The entry of invitees would be strictly regulated. No uninvited person would be allowed to enter the venue," a senior security officer said. The official said CCTV cameras are being installed inside and around the Shalimar Garden. Sharpshooters will be posted at vantage positions around the garden too, he said.

Security forces in motorised speed boats will patrol Dal Lake to provide an outer ring of security to the audience and performers. Days ahead of the concert, Shalimar Garden had been declared out of bounds for visitors. BMW cars and bullet proof vehicles will ferry invitees to the venue. Its gates will be closed after 4.30pm, security officials said. No cameras, electronic equipment, foodstuff or drinks will be allowed inside the garden.

Two high-end five-star hotels in Srinagar, Hotel Lalit Palace and Taj Vivanta, have been booked for invitees from outside the city attending the concert.

Zubin Mehta and over 100 other members of the Bavarian State Orchestra are staying at Taj Vivanta while other invitees would be staying at Hotel Lalit Palace.

After performing in Srinagar, Zubin Mehta is scheduled to hold two concerts in Mumbai Sep 9 and 10. Local separatist leaders and three lesser known guerrilla groups, as also many civil society groups, have opposed the holding of the concert.

A civil society initiative announced that a parallel concert would be conducted in Srinagar the same day. The authorities, however, have refused permission for this.

Sources in the state government said the permission was most likely withheld because the authorities are already heavily burdened with security for the Bavarian State Orchestra's performance, the likes of which have never before been seen in the valley.

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