Srinagar: With just hours left for India-born conductor Zubin Mehta's highly anticipated concert in Srinagar's Shalimar Bagh, there is heavy security in the city. Called Ehsaas-e-Kashmir, the event, a first of its kind in Kashmir, is being organised by German ambassador to India Michael Steiner.
Hundreds of police and military personnel are patrolling the streets of Srinagar, with sharp shooters deployed at strategic locations in the city. Only those carrying special passes will be allowed entry into the concert, expected to be attended by a 1500-strong exclusive audience, including government ministers and diplomats.
Meanwhile, four people were killed in firing at a CRPF camp in Shopian town, 50 km from Srinagar. While police say two were militants, locals allege all four were civilians. (Read)
The concert has already hit a controversial note with Kashmiri separatists calling it an attempt to digress from the human rights violations in the state. The separatists have called for a total shutdown of Srinagar in protest.
77-year-old Mr Mehta reached out to the separatists yesterday, saying, "I didn't choose Kashmir, Kashmir chose me. Music is the message of peace, and music only brings peace."
Accusing the separatists of hypocrisy, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, "These (separatists) people are selective... If music is against the issue of Kashmir, how come Junoon came and performed here," said Mr Abdullah. 'Junoon', a Pakistani band had performed in the city in May 2008.
Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the youngsters must decide upon the nature and purpose of the event after hearing Mr Mehta's music. "I pray and urge and appeal to all young people that they should pause and listen to his music, listen to what his music has to say and then make up their minds," said Mr Khurshid.
Meanwhile, a counter concert, called Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir to highlight, what its organisers say, the turmoil of the people over the last two decades, has also been granted permission by the state administration.