An eye for an eye, and a concert for a concert. Civil society groups in Kashmir plan to organise an event of their own way to protest the Zubin Mehta concert to be organised in Srinagar on September 7.
Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, the group that is organising the protest concert, has titled the event as Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir (reality of Kashmir), saying that the 1,500 people who will come to watch Zubin Mehta's concert - Ehsas-e-Kashmir (the feeling of Kashmir) - should get to know the militancy-hit region's reality before they get the feel of it.
The venue is Lal Chowk Municipal Park, 5 kilometres from Shalimar Bagh, the venue of Ehasas-e-Kashmir, which is being sponsored by the German embassy in India.
"There will be a huge presence of foreign media, so this is the best way to show them what is happening in Kashmir," said Khuram Pervaz, convener of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies. "Before they feel Kashmir, they should know its realities.'' Haqeeqat-e Kashmir will be held a few hours before Mehta's concert at 5 in the evening.
Pervaz said they had kept both participation and invitations open. "We have been contacted by about 15 groups so far. All the participants, including artists, singers, and poets, are Kashmiris,'' he said.
He, however, refused to identify the performers, fearing 'harassment'. The group also plans to organise a photo exhibition at the venue. The protest event is being organised amid protests against Ehsas-e-Kashmir.
Separatists, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have shown displeasure, saying that Kashmir was not peaceful enough to hold such concerts. After opposition from separatists, Kashmir's grand mufti Bashir-ud-Din had also appealed to German ambassador Michael Steiner to reconsider the decision to hold the concert.
A private plane from the German state of Bavaria will fly to India, carrying around 100 instruments and same number of musicians. The television rights have been granted to media giants internationally and the show will be live in most Europe. About 1,500 people, including 700 from outside the state, are expected to attend 90-minute concert.