Pro-Azadi civil society plans to organise parallel concert

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MUGHALSRINAGAR, September 2; A combination of the civil society groups and individuals, holding the stated position of the Valley’s separatist politicians with regard to the Kashmir imbroglio, is organising a parallel variety show on September 7, the day Zubin Mehta’s Bavarian State Orchestra would present a recital at Shalimar Bagh this weekend.

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir, being held at the Sher-e-Kashmir Municipal Park, would be the first artistic exposition, with the significant entry of music, of what the organisers call “the Kashmiris’ suffering of the last 25 years.” It would exclusively encapsulate the human rights abuse committed by different State agencies including the Police and the armed forces.

However, Khurram Pervez, one of the prominent organisers, asserted that the show would be “inclusive and open to whosoever wants to contribute or perform.”

“Only the politicians of all hues would be barred,” Mr. Pervez told The Hindu. He claimed that “a large number of artists, singers, musicians, photojournalists and painters” had conveyed their consent and willingness to participate.

The impression that the show would be “strictly exclusive” is based on the fact that there has been no tradition of expressing dissent to the separatist narrative of ‘Azadi’ in the last 25 years of the armed struggle. The fairly large community of artists, singers, musicians, painters and sculptors has stayed away from everything political that could endanger their life and property. The narrative of ‘Azadi’ has been strongly supported by the militant groups who silenced many of the voices of dissent by repressive means in the first 15 years of militancy.

However, there have been no attacks or reprisals on the defiant artists in the last over 10 years.

“There’s no question of this parallel concert being inclusive. Even when the last gun will fall silent in Kashmir, nobody will dare to sing a song for 20 years on the Kashmiris who suffered at the hands of the militants”, said a popular Kashmiri singer. “Kashmiris have suffered at the hands of all — the security forces, the police, the counter-insurgents and the militants,” he said. .

He also referred to the human rights activism of the concert organisers and pointed out that the cases documented by them were “99% on the atrocities committed by the government agencies.”

The organisers of the parallel concert include the human rights activists, academicians, journalists and others who signed a memorandum last week, urging the German embassy to cancel Mr. Mehta’s concert.

“Zubin Mehta’s show is for the Indians. Only a few Kashmiris would attend it. Ours is exclusively for the Kashmiris. With the world media being in Srinagar, we will convey the real suffering of the natives to the world. There would be poetry and songs, including rap, in Kashmiri, Urdu and English. We are also holding a painting and photo exhibition with the support of several artists and photojournalists,” Mr. Pervez said.

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