This Article is From Sep 06, 2013

Omar Abdullah slams separatists for opposing Zubin Mehta concert

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has hit out at separatists for calling a strike in the Valley to protest against renowned conductor Zubin Mehta's concert in Srinagar on Saturday.

"This is a big event for Kashmir... These (separatists) people are selective... If music is against the issue of Kashmir, how come Junoon came and performed here," said Mr Abdullah, slamming the separatists, who have demanded for Mr Mehta's concert to be scrapped, for hypocrisy. 'Junoon', a Pakistani band had performed in the city in May 2008.

Massive security arrangements are in place for Saturday's event, where the Mumbai-born maestro will enthrall a 1,500-strong exclusive audience, including government ministers and diplomats, at Srinagar's sprawling Shalimar Gardens on the banks of the picturesque Dal Lake.

Hundreds of police and military personnel are patrolling the streets of Srinagar, with sharp shooters being deployed at strategic locations in the city. Only those carrying special passes will be allowed entry into the venue. Metal detectors have been set up at the site of the concert; sniffer dogs, too, have been deployed.

Amid demands that the concert be cancelled, the 57-year-old Mr Mehta reached out to the separatists, saying, "I didn't choose Kashmir, Kashmir chose me. Music is the message of peace, and music only brings peace."

Called Ehsaas-e-Kashmir, the event, a first of its kind in Kashmir, is being organised by German ambassador to India Michael Steiner. But separatists have opposed the concert saying it's an attempt to digress from the human rights violations in the state.

"Any sort of international activity, be it political, diplomatic, cultural or sport will have an adverse effect on the disputed nature of Kashmir," hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani told AFP.

Meanwhile, a parallel cultural event organized to highlight, what its organisers say, is the turmoil of the people over the last two decades, has been granted permission.