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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs