Civil society groups in Kashmir have decided to organise a rival concert, Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir, in protest to music maestro Zubin Mehta's Ehsaas-e-Kashmir. Khurram Pervez, a spokesperson of the Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir event, spoke to Peerzada Ashiq on the controversy surrounding to German embassy organised musical concert.
HT: Why are you opposing Zubin Mehta's concert in Kashmir? Do you oppose music or this particular event?
Pervez: We are absolutely clear: there is no opposition to music. The people of Kashmir have a rich tradition in music and art. The opposition is to an event that is clearly political, due to the involvement of governments, in an occupied place such as Kashmir, with an interest in portraying peace and normalcy. Art as propaganda has been used extensively across the globe. The use of art to legitimise an occupation is unacceptable. The reality of Jammu and Kashmir - that ranges from pain and suffering, to courage and strength, all part of the resistance, cannot be ignored. This concert seeks to do just that. Therefore, the opposition.
HT: German ambassador Micheal Steiner had made it clear that it's an apolitical event. Why are you still going ahead with a rival concert?
Pervez: The politics of the event are clear. The government of India is closely invested in the event. The German Embassy is playing a pivotal role. Large amount of money is being used for this concert. There is close scrutiny on the invitees. The people of Kashmir are clearly excluded, and the state is at pains to ensure that "anti-national" people are not allowed to attend the concert. The concert is a deeply political event.
HT: What is the purpose of the rival concert Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir?
Pervez: The purpose of the rival concert is to celebrate our art and resistance. It is an attempt to continue the struggle to reclaim public space and narratives. While initially a reaction to the Zubin Mehta concert, it is now an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the martyrs of our brave struggle, and celebrate art in the way that is deeply respectful to them, and to the ongoing struggle for azadi (freedom). This is an event for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
HT: What kind of music will be played on the occasion?
Pervez: Our event is not limited only to music. There will be photography exhibits, paintings, poetry etc. The final list of performers is yet to be finalised. But, the musical part of the programme will include Kashmiri and English music (which in turn will include rap and rock music).
HT: Do you see a change of heart in Germany's stand on Kashmir by organising the show?
Pervez: Our letter to the German Embassy received no formal response. We understand that the concert is proceeding as per plan. There appears to be no change of heart on Germany's stand.
HT: Do you have expectation from Germany or EU to play a role in improving human rights record in Jammu and Kashmir?
Pervez: Yes, we do. The international community is expected to play a role. The international community, including Germany, is expected to stand by the oppressed, and speak against the oppressors. In Kashmir, we do not expect countries to assist Government of India in legitimising an occupation. Tokenism is not enough. The international community, including Germany and EU, must understand and speak of the realities of Jammu and Kashmir - from the human rights violations to the political aspirations of the people. Their actions in Jammu and Kashmir today will form a part of the historical record.