Zubin Mehta plans peace concert in Kashmir, but sparks controversy


Activist groups in Kashmir are protesting a concert meant to promote peace in the disputed area along the de facto border between India and Pakistan.

Internationally famous Indian-born conductor Zubin Mehta, 77, is to direct the Bavarian State Orchestra at the Shalimar Mughal Garden on Saturday, in an open-air performance of works by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, among others.

Opponents of the concert, however, say such an event should be put off until Kashmir, a mostly Muslim territory, is free from predominantly Hindu India. One hard-liner has called for a general strike on the day of the concert.


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Some also complain that the guest list of about 1,500 invited government officials, Bollywood stars and sports figures is too exclusive and that few regular citizens have been invited.

Others have accused the event organizers of being insensitive to the violent realities of Kashmir.

“Kashmir is a disputed region under a military occupation,” Khurram Parvez, leader of the human rights group Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, told the Washington Post. “We don’t understand how anyone could disregard the reality of Kashmir.”

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Parvez said he is putting together a separate, free concert in a municipal park, also planned for Saturday, featuring a range of music that will include Kashmiri folk songs and rap, as well as poetry recitals, photography exhibits and performance art.

However, some fear that security forces will move to shut down the rival concert.

Organizers of classical concert, including Mehta and the German Embassy, say their event was meant to be inclusive and be a “gesture of respect,” the Post reported.

Mehta, who served as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1962 to 1978, said he has long wanted to do a peace-promoting concert that would bring together Muslims and Hindus in the disputed region.

As of Friday, the Germany Embassy said there were no plans to cancel the concert, the Post reported.

“Let the music speak for itself,” Mehta said.


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