News / Asia

    Security Tight as Conductor Zubin Mehta Faces Music in Indian Kashmir

    Indian police frisk a Kashmiri man during a cordon and search operation ahead of a concert by the Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta in Srinagar, Sept. 5, 2013.
    Indian police frisk a Kashmiri man during a cordon and search operation ahead of a concert by the Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta in Srinagar, Sept. 5, 2013.
    Reuters
    A planned concert by the Bavarian State Orchestra and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta in Indian-controlled Kashmir has angered separatist groups in the disputed Himalayan region, and security forces are mounting a major operation to keep the visitors safe.

    The concert, the first of its kind in Kashmir, is expected to attract an audience of 1,500 guests on Saturday, including government ministers and diplomats. It will be held in a Mughal-era terraced garden on the banks of the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

    The event has been organized by Germany's ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, who told a news conference that the aim of the concert was to “reach the hearts of the Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement”.

    Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. Separatists say that holding the concert on the Indian side effectively legitimizes New Delhi's rule.

    It takes place against a backdrop of an upsurge in violence in the Kashmir valley. Militants have staged a number of attacks against Indian security forces in and around Srinagar in recent months. Militants struck an army convoy in June, a day before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was due to visit the area, killing eight soldiers.

    India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, one of the most highly militarized regions in the world. Soldiers on the disputed border regularly trade mortar and machinegun fire. About 700,000 Indian troops, paramilitary forces and police are stationed in Jammu and Kashmir state.

    Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a general strike in the region on Saturday to protest what he says is Indian occupation of the disputed territory.

    “The majority of people here are suffering from state repression. Under these circumstances there is no relevance for a music program,” he said.

    A little-known militant group, which has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, has threatened to attack tourists if the concert goes ahead.

    International orchestral and operatic conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy pose during ceremonies honoring Mehta with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, March 1, 2011.International orchestral and operatic conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy pose during ceremonies honoring Mehta with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, March 1, 2011.
    x
    International orchestral and operatic conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy pose during ceremonies honoring Mehta with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, March 1, 2011.
    International orchestral and operatic conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy pose during ceremonies honoring Mehta with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, March 1, 2011.
    “We will not allow the orchestra of Zubin Mehta to perform in Shalimar Garden. If the German Ambassador remains adamant on holding the event, we will target foreign tourists for which the diplomat shall be responsible,” Sami-ul-Haq, a spokesman for Al Nasireen, Farzandaan-e-Millat and Shuhda (Martyrs') Brigade, said in a faxed statement to local media.

    The Germany embassy was not immediately available for comment.

    Special security measures

    Inspector-General of police in Kashmir A.G. Mir said security forces were trying to find out if the threat “is for real or some kind of mischief”.

    “But adequate security measures are in place for the concert,” he stressed.

    As the orchestra plays pieces by Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky, speedboats will patrol the lake and security forces will set up a security cordon two miles from the event. Only guests with special passes will be able to enter the area after being frisked and scanned by metal detectors.

    “It is the biggest ever security exercise for us. Around 1,500-2,000 guests including ambassadors of European countries, central ministers and bureaucrats are arriving here for the concert,” said a senior security official who declined to be named.

    The concert will be broadcast live by television channels in India and Europe, the German Embassy said in a statement.

    “In the months ahead of the concert, Ambassador Steiner has talked to Kashmiris from all walks of life to make the concert an inclusive event,” it said.

    Indian-born Mehta, 77, has conducted thousands of concerts during his long career. He has worked with the Israel, Vienna, and Berlin philharmonic orchestras and was the music director of the New York Philharmonic for 13 years.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora