A day after Syed Ali Shah Geelani opposed the Mumbai-born arranger Zubin Mehta’s concert in Kashmir, Valley’s chief cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that the money being spent on the event could have been used to address people’s issues.
He said that crores of rupees will be spent on boarding and lodging of the artists who are being flown in chartered planes and on TV and media rights of the event. “Instead of spending the money on this event if would be much better if this money is utilized for the healthcare and education of the downtrodden people in this conflict zone of Kashmir,” the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) said while addressing a gathering organized to observe Youm-e-Taqdoos to protest the Jamia Masjid operation and to press for stopping the desecration of religious places by the state forces.
Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G) Geelani Saturday opposed the celebrated Mumbai-born conductor Zubin Mehta show in Kashmir and appealed the German government to reconsider its decision.
Mehta is set to perform at the historic Shalimar Bagh in the Kashmir valley Sep 7 and chief organiser German Ambassador Michael Steiner is confident that the programme would go without a hitch.
The octogenarian resistance leader in a statement issued here said that the international events held in the ‘disputed territory’ interfere with the status. “We in 1983 had also opposed the one-day cricket match between India and West Indies as these events can be used to change the disputed nature of Kashmir dispute,” Geelani said.
He appealed the German Ambassador to not to pay heed to certain group of people and overlook the ‘rampant human rights abuses committed by India in the region’. “I want to remind the German Ambassador that the European Union delegation which had visited Kashmir in 2004 had called the disputed region a beautiful prison. And it would be highly irresponsible for the German being a member of the European Union that it would organize such an event for the prisoners (the people of Kashmir) and turn a blind eye to their sufferings,” he said.
He said that there is no letup in violation of human rights and expressed his sorrow that when people are still waiting for return of mortal remains of Mohammad Afzal Guru and mourning for scores of those killed by Indian forces post the covert hanging and those killed in Markundal and Gool incidents, the German Government while ignoring these incidents, is organizing a cultural show.
At a press conference at the German Embassy in New Delhi, the ambassador had said: "We will only hold it if security situation allows." He said he was confident the event would go without any glitch.
Sitar maestro Bhajan Soprori and secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Cultural Academy Bhashir Ahmed Bhat were also present on the occasion.
When asked whether Zubin Mehta's nationality and background may cause trouble in the Valley, he said: "It is purely a musical event and it has nothing to do with politics."
"With the magic power of music, crossing geographical, political and cultural borders, we want to reach the hearts of Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement," he added.
Public music performances have snowballed in to rows in the Valley ever since government backed Mufti Azam Bashiruddin, Grand Mufti of Kashmir, issued a fatwa against music in the valley.
In case of bad weather, the venue will be shifted to the convention hall of the Kashmir University.
As many as 1,500 guests have been invited for the event, being organised by the German Embassy in association with the Jammu and Kashmir government. It is being sponsored by a number of non-governmental organisations as well as multinationals.
The ambassador has been working to organise the concert for the past one year.
Compositions of Beethoven, Hayden, and Tchaikovsky will be played by the Bavarian State Orchestra from Munich, one of the well-known orchestras of the world. This will be a cultural tribute to Kashmir and its warm-hearted people, said ambassador Steiner.
Meanwhile, the state government has appointed two high-level committees to ensure that no trouble takes place during the event.
One committee is headed by Principal Home Secretary and has Additional Director General of Police as one of its members.
Another committee, tasked with looking into logistic support, comprises high officials of tourism, floriculture and other departments, besides the deputy commissioner of Srinagar.