German ambassador Michael Steiner on Tuesday inspected preparations at the open-air venue of Zubin Mehta’s classical music concert, scheduled for September 7 open-air show at the famous terraced Mughal gardens Shalimar Bagh.
Asked for his reaction to the opposition from Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the concert, Mr Steiner told mediapersons that his visit was limited to an inspection of the preparations underway.
Sources associated with the concert told The Hindu that a Chennai-based firm would complete the specially created floor in front of Dewan-e-Khaas on September 5. The firm managers said they had been strictly directed against revealing any details or interacting with media.
Sources said an audience of 2,500 invited guests would watch the orchestra of 100 musicians perform selections from Beethoven, Hayden and Tchaikovsky for 90 minutes. A group of Kashmiri instrumentalists will begin the event with the famous 19th century romantic poet Rusul Mir’s famous ‘rind poshmaal gindnay drayi lolo’. “It’s only the music, absolutely no singing”, said an artist.
Sunil Misri, Director of Floriculture, said his department had already taken up a major conservation and heritage revival programme at the cost of Rs. 3.44 crore to renovate the garden laid by Mughal emperor Jehangir in 17th century. “It was in a completely dilapidated shape. This kind of renovation is taking place after 40 years,” he said.
First of its kind in Jammu and Kashmir, the concert is being sponsored among others by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Ministry of Tourism Government of India, J&K Tourism Department, Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd., BMW, Reliance Industries, Yusuf and Farida Hamied Foundation, Lufthansa AG, Hero Motor Corporation Ltd., Deutsche Bank, Go Air, Bajaj Allianz Insurance, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces and the Tata Group.
Elaborate security arrangements are being put in place. The audience will include a number of Union Ministers, senior government functionaries and diplomats from New Delhi, besides all Ministers and senior bureaucrats of the State government. Mr Geelani has called for “complete civil curfew” in the State on Saturday which, according to him, would convey to the world that Kashmir was “an occupied land, suppressed and brutalised under the Indian military and political occupation since 1947.”
He has also urged Kashmiris to stage protests against Mr. Mehta’s show after the Friday prayers at all mosques in the valley. He alleged on Monday that Mr. Mehta was “propagating the Israeli agenda.”