Author: Saadut
•4:43 PM


At a certain point I lost track of you.
They make a desolation and call it peace.
When you left even the stones were buried:
The defenceless would have no weapons.
(Late Aga Shahid Ali)


Zubin Mehtas performance was labeled as a ‘Peace Concert’ by Indian media (that acts as an extended arm of the Indian state in Kashmir); peace that was enforced by locking up entire populations by military might and sealed roads to prevent civilian movement. A concert that was held under layers of fortified security with a selected elitist politically aligned and imported audience. While the autocratic audiences, many of them dozing off in non comprehension of this music, were trying hard to decrypt the notes of Beethoven, Hayden and Tchaikovsky in the vandalized lawns of Shalimar. Lawns that had been concealed by iron stages and blood red carpets while commoners beyond this garden had either been locked up or were suffocating under columns of Indian armed forces.

Earlier German Embassy had claimed “This concert is for the people of Kashmir” yet they had no qualms in having the same ‘people of Kashmir’ denied the right to exist. While Kashmir had been turned into a bigger concentration camp, from the already existing military cage it has been for decades, anarchy and autocracy were seated in lawns of Shalimar enjoying ‘notes of peace'.

Zubin Mehta’s utter failure to comprehend Kashmir was evident from his statement of “(wanting to) bring Hindus and Muslims together (in Kashmir), to have one-and-a-half hours of inner peace and spirituality.” Did he perceive the Kashmir problem to be some Hindu v/s Muslim fight, or was he deliberately pretending politically blind to the realities of Kashmir? Was Zubin Mehta working on a script to divert attention from the real issue here in deniability of the Kashmir problem? With the level of intellect Mehta is famed to possess, you wouldn’t expect him to be ignorant about Kashmir. Was his denial to recognize the real issue of Kashmir then similar to the denial by Israel for the rights of Palestinians?  

Coincidentally on the same day that Zubin Mehta was peddling his ‘peace notes’ in Shalimar, Indian forces shot and killed four Kashmiri youth in Shopian. Local reports suggest that the youngsters were on two motorcycles, driving towards an examination centre when Indian forces near a paramilitary camp killed these youth in cold blood. Ironically, also around the same time that this ‘peace concert’ was going on, Indian forces shot at a civilian vehicle at the city centre of capital Srinagar, which is hardly some kilometers away from the concert menu. A civilian was critically injured in this incident. And in both these cases Indian forces tried to twist the facts regarding shooting of civilians. In the Shopian incident, Indian forces first claimed it was a ‘fidayeen attack’, which was later changed to ‘attack by solitary man with pistol’. Local sources confirmed that all four were innocent civilians. Those who are aware of Indian actions in Kashmir, would know how these stories are woven by Indian military forces (and then promoted by Indian media) to escape any responsibility for coldblooded murders.

Zubin Mehta who earlier claimed “have been pained by killings at LoC (near Kashmir)” maintained a morbid silence on the killings of innocent Kashmiris on a day he had been distributing ‘peace tonics’ in Shalimar. What happened to his “bring Hindus and Muslims together” theory in Shopian and City Centre incidents? Who were the Hindus and the Muslims in these incidents now? Given the intellect Zubin Mehta possesses, maybe it was only us ‘the dumb Kashmiris’ who missed the real point in his “Hindus and Muslims” theory on Kashmir. Maybe he has subtly recognized the face of a ‘Hindu Indian republic’ behind the façade of democracy that has been busy trampling voices of Muslims in Kashmir. Have we not heard before how Indian military and political experts distinguish Kashmiris as ‘the separatists, hence AFSPA people’ and the more violent Naxal areas as ‘our own, hence non AFSPA people’.

Even when art should know no politics, Zubin Mehta has come up with some gems on Kashmir after the event.

“I am a Kashmiri” says Zubin Mehta. Every celebrity from Rahul Gandhi to Shahrukh Khan claims to be a Kashmiri, displaying a distrust of their own genes.

“This concert is for bringing people together.”  When you cage the whole valley, perform under a three tier security blanket with military columns excluding the common people from the carefully chosen and air lifted, imported elite audience for the show, how do you ‘bring people together’? Rather than being inclusive for Kashmiris, this concert was strictly exclusive and only for the politically correct elites. And if this was not all, the govt sensing the shifting of spotlight by the alternate ‘Haqeeqat e Kashmir’ event ensured that commoners were barred from attending that event by sealing all routes to their venue. The few brave ones who made it to the ‘Haqeeqat e Kashmir’ event were made to change routes in an endless loop and wait near venue barricades from morning till evening by Indian forces.

I respect the government for the fact that they have not made settlements here...it is a big word in the Middle East” was enough hint by Zubin Mehta that India can change the demography of Kashmir as and when it wishes to. There have already been earlier reports of Israeli - Indian collaboration in anti militancy operations in Kashmir, India seeking Israeli help from their experience in Palestine. So India repeating the ‘Israeli type settlement policy’ in Kashmir should not be ruled out.

"Kashmiris live in comfort, who don't pay for electricity, who don't have capital gains tax, ...they have a very good life here" The Music maestro is so weak in general knowledge. Somebody tell him that Kashmiris pay 600% more than the production price of electricity generated in Kashmir and still don't have 24 hours supply. Kashmiris are the highest taxed states among Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The present government has doubled taxes on Kashmiris during its tenure. For experiencing 'what good life Kashmiris live' Mr Mehta has to live with. When we are left without electricity and drinking water for weeks in the freeze of winter as the ruling monarchy has fled to warmer lands, he will only have his angels to call for help (and even they will dread coming to kashmir then).   

"As an Indian, I would love to have a house on top of the hill here."  That would need a change in Article 370, abrogation of which BJP has been always seeking. But Zubin Mehta won’t know that such land ownership acts not only exist for Kashmir but also in North Eastern states and Himachal Pradesh in India. And constitution experts will tell you abrogation of 370 will automatically break Kashmir from India, being Indians only link to Kashmir. But then living in Kashmir is no easy thing Mr Mehta, one crackdown by Indian forces or one abuse by Indian military (which is a routine for Kashmiris) and Mr. Mehta will surely demand UN intervention for his plight. 

Asked Zubin Mehta (today noon) "Do you believe in healthy and critical opposition?" He paused in a silence and replied "hmm ok". Don't know was that a Yes or a No. 

Sadly neither the world renowned conductor nor the Germans had the courtesy to recognize the loss of life at the hands of Indian forces on a day they were selling their ‘peace wares’ in a militarily occupied Srinagar garden. This ‘Ehassas e Kashmir’ was a mask to hide that ‘Haqeeqat e Kashmir’ that was being practiced by Indian forces in Shopian, city centre Srinagar and elsewhere.  Surely there can be no ‘Ehassas’ without recognizing the ‘Haqeeqat’ on ground zero. While I respect Mr Mehta’s musical genius, I reject his politics on Kashmir. Genuine music is welcome, political masks in musical notes are abhorred.

This imported yet disconnected ‘Ehsaas’ tuned out to be a ‘Marie Antoinette and Nero’ rolled into one, while Kashmir was burning outside these gardens.





~


P:S Germany has a special interest in Kashmir. It sees Kashmir through the prism of post US withdrawal from Afghanistan, as a window to set foot into Central Asian - Afghan - Kashmir axis. More about that in the next blog.


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