After expression of displeasure for more than a week, the September 7 concert of noted music conductor Zubin Mehta has now come under militant threat.
A national news agency received a joint statement from 3 militant organisations, threatening to target the show. The organisations, Al Nasireen, Shohada brigade and Farzandan-e-Millat, asked people to stay away from the concert or face dire consequences. The statement issued via fax has asked the German embassy to cancel the concert.
Police sources believe that the organisations serve as a front for the Hizbul Mujahideen.
“These names have surfaced many times in the past when top militant organisations didn’t want their names to come up,” said a senior police official. “About a decade ago, Al Nasireen used to claim responsibility for many killings and attacks,” he added.
AG Mir, inspector general of police, says he is verifying the threats. Confirming that the news agency had received the fax, Mir said: “We received information sometime ago and are ascertaining if the threat is for real or some kind of mischief.” Mir, however, assured that adequate security measures are in place.
The show is being organised by the German embassy and will be telecast live in Europe and India.
Bayerische Staatsorchester, the symphonic orchestra from Munich, will present the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky at the ‘Concert for Kashmir’ in the Mughal Garden of Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar on September 7.
Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called a general strike in protest against the concert on Saturday. Claiming that it is “turning focus away from the Kashmir issue”, Geelani has asked college and university students in the Valley to stage peaceful protests after Friday prayers to oppose the concert. He also called upon imams (priests) to make people aware about the “implications of such a show”. He said the show was of least significance to Kashmiris.
Countering Geelani, however, chief minister Omar Abdullah has said, “The Zubin Mehta show will not affect the Kashmir issue.”
Separatists, including moderate leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have opposed the show saying, “Kashmir is not peaceful enough to hold such concerts.” The state’s chief cleric, grand mufti Bashir-ud-Din, has also appealed to German ambassador Michael Steiner to reconsider holding the concert in the Valley.
Civil society groups in Kashmir have devised a different way to register their protest. Called Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir (The Reality of Kashmir), the groups say their parallel concert is aimed at showing the world the reality before they get “the feel of Kashmir”. Mehta’s concert has been titled Ehsas-e-Kashmir (The Feel of Kashmir).