Bring in the music!
Proposed Concert by famous composer Zubin Mehta at Srinagar's famed Shalimar Bagh, Mughal Gardens, has divided the Kashmiri society. Is listening to music a crime?
Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi
A controversy has been triggered by German Embassy’s decision to support the performance of Music maestro Zubin Mehta’s Bayerische Staatsorchester (Bavarian State Orchestra) at Shalimar Bagh, Mughal Gardens in the picturesque backdrop of the Dal Lake.
Ever since German Ambassador Michael Steiner announced in press conference about its sponsorship of the event, there has been a howl of protests in the valley. Separatists, members of civil society, intellectuals and academicians want the concert to be cancelled. In a letter to German ambassador they have claimed that the concert “will strengthen the occupation in the State." Other reasons for opposing the concert was that it was exclusionary as it was by invitation only. “How can it be seen as reaching to the hearts of Kashmiris then?", the letter questioned.
“Is it sin to be happy in Kashmir?” asked one of my non Kashmiri friends. Of course, not! Kashmir, with its fabled beauty is a perfect place for romance. People live, laugh and have their happy moments. But there is a dark violent side of this story, which is as important.
After the armed militancy began in 1989, Kashmir ceased to be just a beautiful place of snow capped mountains, green valleys and lakes. Instead it became the scenic backdrop to a conflict which transformed the valley like never before. The violence took the joy out of the lives of the people living in a region described by conquerors, writers, lovers and poets as “jannat”. Thousands of lives have been lost, so many women have become widows, and children orphaned. Kashmiris’ have been resisting the outside forces, even before India achieved its independence in 1947. And they are still doing it- with their pens, brushes and music.
Kashmiris’ are not against music. When Bollywood filmmakers began to locate their stories in Kashmir so that they could capture the rapturous beauty of the verdant valley, Kashmiris’ had already been humming the film melodies. Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar were a craze irrespective of being Indians. Coming to the nineties, Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik became as popular in Kashmir as they were in rest of India.
Bollywood films are never seen to be part of some "political conspiracy" by the people here. Also, Kashmir has been hosting its own music, which is an indispensable part of its rich culture. Singers like Zoon Begum, Raj Begum, Qaisar Nizami, Rashid Hafiz, hold a special place in the hearts of Kashmiris. Music is so popular in Kashmir that people stepped out to protest when the Grand Mufti, Basheer ud Din, issued a fatwa against the girl band, Pragaash, calling it un-Islamic.
After the uprising in 2008, MC Kash and SXR became a rage among youth. These youngsters, through their music, brought about a musical revolution, which was reminiscent of the impact left by John Lennon's song "Revolution" and Bob Marley’s subversive music.
Kashmiris, also, never opposed the concert of Ghazal Maestro, Jagjit Singh, when he performed in 2009. His death was mourned by music lovers in the valley. If Kashmiris indeed love music, so why are they creating so much of a ruckus over Zubin Mehta's concert?