Seeking to allay fears that his much-awaited concert in Kashmir might spark separatist violence, western music conductor Zubin Mehta on Friday recalled that “not a single shot was fired” during his two-hour-long performance in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.

Emphasising the power of music, he said: “There was not a single shot fired, that was negotiated by the others, still soldiers on both sides who heard it, felt inner peace. We must never underestimate the power of inner peace that music brings.”

“We need all your blessings for playing in Kashmir, we will be playing from our heart,” Zubin Mehta said, speaking at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he was presented the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony, 2013, by President Pranab Mukherjee.

His ‘Ehsaas-e-Kashmir’ concert is to be held on Saturday.

Mehta lamented that Gandhiji was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. “The year of his assassination in 1948, no peace prize was given. I wish they would still consider giving it to him; who deserves it more than our Mahatmaji?”

On Rabindranath Tagore, Zubin Mehta spoke of literati in Tel Aviv extolling Gurudev’s influence on South American writers and poets. “His aura has always been with us. Indians are proud of his legacy.”

Earlier, accepting the award from the President, Zubin Mehta said though he had been away from India for 60 years, he had not given up his idea of nationalism or desi khana (Indian food) that went with him everywhere.

“I accept this award in utter humility; in the end I am just a simple musician...,” he said in his acceptance speech. The prize carries a citation, a plaque and a purse of Rs. 1 crore.

Message of optimism

Mr. Mukherjee said: “In felicitating Zubin Mehta with the Tagore Award, we are not only honouring a distinguished son of India, but we are recognising his untiring efforts, over the decades, to convert music into an instrument of peace and harmony. He has made it his mission to bring hope and reason wherever there is conflict and discord. To audiences across the world, Zubin Mehta has brought a message of optimism and conviction about the shared destiny of humankind. His name is synonymous with amity and faith.”